Braves use of expanded replay on Opening Day leaves me feeling hopeful for the system

Published 12:03am Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Braves lost their season opener 2-0 against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday afternoon. But they won the first expanded recall challenge ever, so they have that going for them, which is nice.
When the rule was first announced in January, myself along with every other baseball fan I spoke with had mixed feelings about it.
It’s important to make sure the umpires’ calls are correct, but how long would they take to review them? I would hazard a guess it takes around two to three minutes to review a play in football, give or take depending on the situation. Would baseball take that long?
I even asked Red Sox catcher David Ross about the rule when he visited Grace Christian Academy a couple months ago.
“The only thing I’m worried about is it making the games longer,” Ross said.
Even the pros don’t want to be kicking dirt around while they wait on some officials to decide if a guy was out or not.
Cut to Monday when Brewer and infamous blood-doper Bryan Braun led off the sixth inning with an infield single.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez challenged the call. A man equipped with headphones and a call box ran onto the field and connected the umps with the reviewers. Fifty-eight second later, the call was overturned and Braun was out.
This settles a lot of questions I had about the replay system.
The review seemed efficient, urgent, but with a care to make sure the call was as close to correct as possible.
Braun told ESPN he had a pretty good idea he was out. If the runner admits it, then we know we’re on the right track. I can see expanded replay taking a turn for the worse, though.
Imagine a division championship or a World Series game where a convoluted double play takes five minutes to review, possibly more. Imagine two managers having a replay duel, challenging every call they disagree with. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but it sure as heck could.
There is a solution to this possibility, however. Managers are allowed only one challenge per game. If they call is overturned, they are given another. If not, tough luck, it’s spent.
Baseball games already take as long as three, sometime four hours. What if expanded replay pushes them to five?
Yet if the overturned call Monday night was any indication to how the system is going to work, baseball fans can rest easy. I mean, come on, 58 seconds of waiting to make sure Braun was out. If that isn’t true baseball justice, I don’t know what is.
What’s funny is Gonzalez’s face after the call was overturned. He shrugs and cracks an amused smile as Miller Park groans behind him.

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