MLB April Review: Replays, Ejections, and No-No's

With the end of April comes the end of the first month of the MLB season. While what the standings will look like near October are far from clear at this moment, below are some other observations that definitely stand out.

MLB Replay Review: It Still Needs Some Improvement

Instant replay has made the process of getting the play right in baseball a much easier task, but it still leaves a good deal to be desired. One major area in which it lacks is the explanation of calls. Such explanations definitely would be helpful in explaining calls regarding interpretations of rules like the new “Utley Rule,” which the Toronto Blue Jays fell victim to already this early in the season.

In the year 2016, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be possible. The NBA has this via the referee communicating to the P.A. announcer. The NFL has this via the referee being mic’d up and being able to communicate to the stadium and broadcast audience.

It can’t be hard for the MLB Replay Operations Center, which some may call the “Illuminati”, to provide an explanation to the stadium announcer. A simple direct call to the P.A. announcer to explain, or giving the crew chief of the umpiring crew a mic, would suffice. This simple change alone will give replay review more legitimacy, and will probably lead to less manager/umpire confrontations.

Managers Should Be Fined For Wasting Time After Ejections

Speaking of managers confronting umpires, managers get away with too much when it comes to wasting time after being ejected. For the all the pace of play rules that the MLB has created to speed up the game, the amount of time a manager wastes after being ejected seems to have gone unnoticed. This past week, Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly became “Donnie Ejection”, after arguing the ejection of his pitcher. Needless to say, a few valuable minutes were wasted in a west coast night game that was already running late.

The commissioner’s office should institute a fine for every minute a manager spends on the field after an ejection, no matter how entertaining it is to watch the skipper lose his mind. The league has already told managers to keep pitching mound visits to thirty seconds, so they might as well apply the rule to other scenarios.

Pitchers’ Arms Are More Important Than No-Hitters

Two times in one month, no-hit bids were ended prematurely due to pitch counts. The first came on April 6 in a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. Dodgers’ rookie pitcher Ross Stripling was pulled in the eighth inning after throwing 100 pitches.  The move was so un-popular, even the rival Giants fans at AT&T Park were booing the pitching change.

The second came Friday, April 29. Marlins skipper Don Mattingly pulled Adam Conley after his pitch count hit 115 pitches, despite no-hitting the Milwaukee Brewers through 7.2 innings.

The easy assertion, because a no-hitter is such an amazing feat, was that the pitchers should have been left in. In hindsight, this is especially true for the Dodgers, who lost their game after pulling Stripling. Unfortunately, reality is a little tougher to argue with.

Stripling had just made his major league debut after having Tommy John surgery in 2014. Given the void in the Dodgers pitching rotation left by the departure of Zack Greinke, and injuries to Brett Anderson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy, the Dodgers can’t afford to lose any more pitchers, let alone someone who has a bright future.

In the case of Adam Conley, should the Marlins happen to make a run late in the season, it’s safe to say they would prefer to have those extra pitches at the end of the season.

As the Washington Nationals learned in 2012, it’s better to limit a pitcher at the beginning of the year, than when it matters even more down the road.

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