MLB Expanded Replay Can Only Help, Despite Need to Speed Games Up

Daniel NavaThe Red Sox have been the victim of their share of blown calls this year, and no player has seen more than Daniel Nava. So it wasn’t a surprise when Nava, manager John Farrell and other members of the Red Sox spoke out in support when Major League Baseball recently announced that more replay would be coming to the game in 2014.

Replay brings some worry, too, though. By removing part of the human element from the game, baseball as everyone knows it could change. But perhaps even more concerning is the amount of time it could take to review calls. While those involved in baseball have given lip praise to speeding up the game, fans themselves are adamant about keeping games from stretching too much longer.

Let’s look and that and some other topics in this weeks mailbag.

In this day and age of everyone wanting the game to speed up, what are your thoughts on expanding instant replay? Won’t that just slow the game down?
– Michael Smith  

I agree. I am fearful of that also. The game really needs to speed up as it is, and I am hopeful MLB sees this as an issue and that umpires begin to enforce the time of play rules in regards to hitters staying in the box and pitchers pitching in the allotted time to do so. I do think the time has come with modern technology to get the call correct. I am hopeful that the new system will be quick and decisive and will not add to game times. I think the NHL system works the best — NFL, not so much.

Do you think they will ever replace the home plate umpire with the electronic pitch zone indicator?
– Sam Slater

I don’t think it will get to that level ever, although I never thought baseball would go to this length of replay. It’s amazing how much this has changed the game in a very short period of time. I think the largest issues that will now be taken care of are out calls. Balls and strikes opens a whole can of worms, I think.

Do you think MLB should be more punitive with its punishments for drug use? And do you think all players should be tested?
– Cheryl Demers

Yes and yes. I think suspensions should be a full season for first-time offenders. I also think a lifetime ban might be useful for second-time offenders. I also believe all players should be tested — and they are, some more than others, however. I think we are at an interesting point in all of this where players are now sick of the cheaters and are on board to have it out of the game across the board. I think the time has come where the players just want a level playing field.

Which of your in-person interviews is the most memorable, and why?
– John ‏McFleigh

Tim Wakefield on the mound at Yankee Stadium at the conclusion of Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. It had been a year since he stood on that mound and gave up the season-ending home run to Aaron Boone. He was filled with so much emotion, as were his teammates, as you might imagine. It was a surreal interview.

Does it really stink being on a three-city, 10-game road trip, returning home to broadcast just one game and then going back to the West Coast?
– Laurent LaFontaine

No — it’s all part of the schedule. I really love my job and am not sure you can consider it a job. I do wish we did every game, though. I would love to do some of the Yankees games that NESN loses to national outlets every year, but I understand the business of the game.

How’s your fishing, and what do you prefer to catch in your free time?
– Debbie Allen

My fishing is not going as well as I would like. We have not been home much in the last three weeks. I live in an area that has many great freshwater lakes. So primarily, I catch smallmouth and largemouth bass. I enjoy deep-sea fishing as well, but you cannot beat the convenience of fresh water. Based on the fish I have caught and tweeted photos of this summer, you can tell none have been large.

After being forced to listen to other broadcasters here in upstate New York, it is so great to hear you and Jerry. My question is: Have you stocked up on blue pens? I’d hate to have you run out and panic set in.
– Sandra Martin Morgan 

I have now. For the first time in 13 years in the majors and 10 in the minors, I ran out of my blue Papermate flair pens last Wednesday night in Toronto. I had one left, which normally is not a problem, but it dried up quickly, and then I had none. When we returned home, the fine folks at W.B. Mason sent over an emergency supply for me to take to the West Coast. So all is good. I use blue when scorekeeping and red for all pitching plays — K’s, BB, HBP. So the blue flair was a big deal.

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