It's interesting to watch the little side effects that are becoming apparent in Major League Baseball's replay-challenge system. Some things we didn't expect are becoming the most noticeable aspects of the system, while the seamless, barely-notice-it's-there process that baseball hoped for hasn't happened yet. The Twins know all about that -- they've already had two lengthy replay delays in the season's first week, and both of them affected Kevin Correia's pitching.
The long delay to get a ruling on today's fair ball / foul ball call actually made sense to me, since it was extremely difficult to see on the replay. It was one of those plays where you have to determine whether the ball disappears behind the pole or remains visible, and I'm not surprised it took a few minutes of checking the various replays to make certain.
Those sort of replay delays shouldn't be too common; that's not the slow-down-the-game problem that is developing. No, the real way the game will be delayed, it turns out, is by the number of times managers come out of the dugout after a close play and stall while awaiting word from their clubhouse if the play is worth challenging, if there is evidence to overturn the call. The fact that one side or the other may dispute just about every close call, even if they ultimately don't challenge it, might turn out to be the bigger problem.
Then there's the slowness, the clunkiness of the process itself. Asking for a replay, walking over to the dugouts and putting the headsets on just seems too ceremonial, too formal. Why not equip one of the base umpires with a headset he wears the entire game, and let him simply get an answer ASAP when a play is challenged? This is a problem in the NFL, too; the process of running off the field delays the action on it.
Still, you don't hear anyone complaining about getting the calls right. The problem is with the time of games, and that's not just a replay problem. The firt three innings of today's game took more than 90 minutes, and that wasn't all because of the replay.