Two weeks ago, Johan Santana threw a no-hitter. If you already knew this, you probably also know that it was the first no-hitter by a Mets pitcher in team history. And if you knew that, you probably also know that the third-base umpire blew a call in the sixth inning, calling foul a Carlos Beltran line drive that caught the chalk line and should have been called fair, thus ending the no-hit bid. It's the latest in a long line of high-profile blown calls that stretches back to the beginning of baseball, because with any entirely human-run system, many, many mistakes will be made.
I've got the replay system that can fix this issue, and that will allow for any calls - not just fair or foul and trap plays, but everything, including balls and strikes - to be reviewed. Here's the deal: pitches will be tracked with ball-tracking software, the same system that is used in tennis and is being tested for possible inclusion at soccer's 2014 World Cup. Everything else will use the TV technology already in place. Replays involving the "TV umpire" will have to be clearly wrong to be overturned - all calls will otherwise stay with the umpires' decision. As for balls and strikes, more than half the ball must be within the strike zone, or the call will not be overturned.
Each team will be allowed to be wrong once without losing any challenges, but once they are wrong twice, they can no longer challenge calls. This removes the incentive to challenge borderline calls, as they'll likely not be overturned, since borderline calls will usually end up staying with the umpire's decision. Umpires will also have the ability to refer decisions to the "TV umpire," thereby letting the guy with the eye in the sky make the correct call. The TV umpire also means that the umpires won't have to run off the field to make the call - the guy in the booth will make it.
Of course, Bud Selig is on record as saying, "I’ve had very, very little pressure from people who want to do more," which could be considered code for "the owners don't want it, nor does anyone want to pay for it."
Also, at some point someone is going to discover that I lifted pretty much this entire system directly from cricket, and probably call me names. The system doesn't work perfectly in cricket, and there is plenty of argument about whether it's a good thing or a bad thing for the game. India, one of the pre-eminent teams in the world, simply refuses to use it. But as far as I can see, this system accomplishes its most important task - the awful umpiring decision, the how-could-he-miss-that, ump-are-you-blind, Don-Denkinger-reborn kind of call has been eliminated. And really, isn't that the baseline for what we want a replay system to accomplish?
On with the links:
*Steve Adams at Twinkie Town has an interesting look at top Twins draft pick Byron Buxton, who may well be the organization's new top prospect.
*Aaron Gleeman breaks down the surprising success of Twins lefty (and Guelph, Ontario's own) Scott Diamond.
*Seattleites are not happy that the OKC Thunder are finding success in the South, but as Jeremy Repanich points out, without demonized owner Clay Bennett, GM Sam Presti - who built the Thunder - would never have been hired.
*And finally, Tim Marchman has heard much about this game called "hockey," and so, he decided to head to his local bar and try out being a hockey fan. (Note: hockey-loving readers such as Rocket may not want to read this too closely as it may provoke volcanic hatred.)