Expanded replay: How it'll work

A fair ball called foul, perhaps? Or a pitch that grazes a hitter's jersey that the ump doesn't see? Or a catch that's called a trap -- for a seemingly innocent single -- with two outs and nobody on?

Those plays, those calls, can wind up changing games, too. But the way the replay architectural committee has described how it sold this system to the 30 managers, I'd bet almost no calls like those get challenged in the first inning or two.

Too risky.

Now it wouldn't have been too risky under a slew of alternative systems that baseball could have adopted, but it's definitely too dangerous under this system, which Torre and his group have been spinning to managers by likening it to another big decision they have to make every night.

"I said, 'Just look at this as something you've never had before,'" Torre said. "And use it as a strategy. … And the fact that you only have two [challenges], even if you're right -- it's like having a pinch hitter.' Tony and I have talked about it. It's like, 'When are you going to use this guy?'"

Well, that's an excellent analogy, if you're trying to make a manager understand that replay strategy is now another fun-filled, second-guess fest that has just been added to his job description. Whoop-de-doo.

But here's the problem with that analogy: No manager would ever burn his best pinch hitter in the first inning, right? Even if the bases were loaded and Clayton Kershaw was pitching, and you might never have a chance this good again.

So there are going to be nights -- maybe a lot of nights -- on which plays that are made for challenging go unchallenged. All because of when they happen, not how they happen.

All because, in the end, baseball decided it was more important to maintain the "rhythm of the game" by limiting stoppages of play -- by limiting replays -- than it was to get all calls right. Or lots of calls right. Or, at the very least, lots of early-inning calls right.

Just recognize that's the deal baseball's decision-makers made with themselves, to make any kind of replay possible. But also recognize that it didn't have to work this way.

A system that included, say, three challenges per manager instead of one -- that would have changed all this.

A system that gave umpires the authority to review any call without a challenge -- that would have altered this equation, too.

And, especially, a system that bagged the whole challenge concept, that gave the replay umpire the power to fix any call he thought was wrong -- that would be ideal if you were trying to get virtually every call right instead of just the big ones.

But baseball didn't want to go down that road. It couldn't give umpires the authority to decide what plays to review, Torre said, or they'd want to go to the video "all the time." And the never-ending fear of the 4-hour game -- that includes 76 minutes of replay reviews -- continues to hang over the powers that be.

You should also be warned, incidentally, that certain calls -- some of our favorite replay specials -- won't be reviewable: The checked swing. The neighborhood play. Trap/catch calls in the infield. So don't get all worked up about them, either.

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