Welcome to Bud Selig’s Instant Replay

June 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Last Friday night, I was at Citizens Bank Park for an extra-inning thriller between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.

In the bottom of the 11th, after Raul Ibañez doubled and Shane Victorino was intentionally walked, Greg Dobbs stepped up to the plate with the chance to give the Phils their third consecutive win in extra innings.

And he almost did.

He launched one of Justin Masterson’s pitches deep down the right-field line. As I saw the ball from my seats on the third base side, it looked clearly foul off the bat. But the ball began to hook back towards the right-field foul pole before it disappeared into the outfield seats.

Then I saw first-base umpire Jim Joyce rule the ball foul.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel did come out of the dugout to talk to Joyce, but the conversation seemed to last only a few seconds. And as I saw Charlie walk back to the dugout, I turned to my mother who accompanied me to the game and said, “I can’t believe how ridiculous this is! How can this crew not review that play?”

Soon after saying that, a few fellow fans in the row in front of us asked me why there wasn’t a review. Another fan wasn’t even aware that MLB had instant replay. And as I found myself explaining the league’s instant replay rule to them, I realized that it would have been more shocking had Dobbs’ foul ball been reviewed.

I explained that Major League Baseball limits use of instant replay only to home run calls to determine if a potential home run was fair or foul, whether the ball left the playing field or not, or whether or not the ball was subject to spectator interference.

But the use of replay is solely determined by the umpire crew chief. So if the crew chief does not feel that the play needs to be reviewed, it won’t be. And Jim Joyce, though not the crew chief, fully believed that Dobbs’ hit was foul. Therefore, the play was not reviewed.

“So let me get this straight,” said one of the fans. “The umps decide if plays need to be reviewed?”

“Yep,” I respond.

“So, why would they ever review a call they made? They’d have to admit they were wrong.”


“That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard! What (expletive) thought that was a good idea?!”

“The same (expletive) who thought that Game Five of the World Series should’ve been played partially underwater.”

Yes Bud, we were talking about you.

Only Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, the man who brought baseball fans ties in the All-Star game and presided over the steroid era, could think of such a nonsensical instant replay system. 

Seriously, how much sense does it make to have the officials being the sole factor in determining if a play warrants instant replay? The manager can’t request it, there’s no independent party that can call the crew chief for a review, and there’s no mandate which states that replay must be used in certain situations.

I have seen many replays and photos of Dobbs’ foul ball. Many freeze frames show the ball directly over the foul pole, but it’s difficult to determine if the ball was fair or foul when it crossed the plane of the home run fence. The ball most certainly was directly over the foul pole before falling into the seats, but it’s difficult to tell if it hooked into fair territory before clearing the fence.

With that being said, do I think the play should have been overturned? No. Do I think the Phillies were robbed in their eventual loss to the Red Sox? No. But I absolutely think that the play should’ve been reviewed.

In that scenario, there’s no excuse for not taking a good, hard look at Dobbs’ hit giving the technology available.

Personally, I am not one of the biggest proponents for instant replay in baseball. I hardly see the pressing need to adopt replay when umpires are generally less than 10 feet away from most calls they make. Are they going to miss some calls? Of course they are.  But for the most part, they are able to make the correct calls on close plays.

However, I do agree that home run calls should be considered for review. Why? Because home run calls can occur up to 300 feet away from the nearest umpire. And it is difficult for any trained human eye to see exactly where a ball no larger than the palm of your hand landed a football field away from where you are standing. 

As a baseball fan, it is frustrating that the league did not take the time to develop a well-thought out instant replay system, that is fair to both the umpires and teams, while keeping the integrity of the game. 

It would be fair to entitle the managers to request a review of a questionable home run ball, or have a MLB official in the press booth who can page the crew chief if they feel a play should be reviewed.

But Selig’s flawed, quick-fix system is hardly the fair solution. All Selig did was develop an instant replay rule that gives all the power to officials who make all the calls in the first place.

After all the bad press the league received last year over its lack of a replay system, Bud’s solution was to concoct a system which would quiet his critics, while simultaneously not ruffling any feathers in the umpires’ union.

But then again, when I think about the whole situation, I guess I’m really not that surprised.  I mean, it is Bud Selig’s instant replay…



Agree or disagree?  Leave comments below!

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Blown Away: Why Does Brad Lidge Continue to Struggle?

June 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Phillies are currently 5-2 on their 10-game road trip, and are hoping to continue their success away from Citizens Bank Park in New York on Tuesday night.  Let’s be honest though, this team should be 7-0 going into Citi Field.  And Phils fans, we all know why…

Brad Lidge’s consecutive blown saves against the Los Angeles Dodgers last Friday and Saturday brings his total of the year to six, tops in the Major League.   His ERA is an abysmal 7.27.  He has allowed runs in 13 of his 28 appearances this season, including a streak of 6 consecutive appearances between May 5 and May 15 where opponents have crossed the plate on his watch. 

And throughout this debacle, fans like myself are scratching our heads, and wondering what the %#&@ happened to our once flawless closer.

Lidge recently did miss some time earlier this season with soreness in his knee.   His struggles on the mound could be due to that knee, but Lidge and the Phils’ coaching staff both deny that this is the reason for Lidge’s issues.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee claim that Lidge’s performance is probably more mental than physical.  And even though I think that Brad Lidge’s recent knee injury probably tweaked the mechanics of his pitching, Manuel and Dubee’s assessment is most likely more accurate.

Let’s not forget that this isn’t the first time Lidge’s performance suddenly dropped in his career.  As Houston’s closer in 2005, he was one of baseball’s premier and respected closers in the game. 

Then he met Albert Pujols in the NLCS. 

Pujols’ late game, go-ahead bomb against Lidge in the 2005 NLCS seemed to rattle the once steady Lidge.  Rattled him so much that Scott Podsednik, a man who would struggle to carry a ball out of a little league field, jacked a walk-off against him in the 2005 World Series, helping to lead the White Sox to a sweep of the Astros.

After that postseason, Lidge blew 14 saves in 51 opportunities in his last two seasons with the Astros, after only blowing eight saves in his previous 71 save opportunities.

Regardless of the reason of Lidge’s recent flaws, the Phillies need to address it now.  Six blown saves in 19 attempts should raise more than just an eyebrow around the Phillies coaching staff.  Most closers who would put up those stats wouldn’t be allowed within 100 feet of a baseball.

Yet, Lidge continues to get the ball in close game situations, and continues to disappoint his team and the fans.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Brad Lidge.  I would argue that not only was he the best closer in the league last year (sorry K-Rod, you did blow seven saves for the Angels), but I would go as far to say that the Phillies would not be reigning World Champions if it wasn’t for Lidge’s contributions.

Remember, Lidge saved seven of the 11 wins the Phillies had in the 2008 postseason.  So even though I will never, ever, forget how amazing Brad Lidge was in 2008, we are in a new season, and if Lidge cannot contribute this season, he should not be given the ball.  It’s that plain and simple.

How can the Phillies help Brad Lidge get back to his perfect self?  Let’s go back to last season again.  A wild and ineffective Brett Myers was sent to the minors in July after going more than a month without winning a decision.

After a few weeks of working on his mechanics and confidence, he returned to the Phillies, and posted a 7-2 record with a 1.80 ERA from the end of July through September 1.  I think some time in Allentown or Reading could benefit Lidge greatly. 

Get the Phillies coaching staff to spend more time with Lidge, have him work on his mechanics, help him get his fastball back under control and down in the zone, and most importantly, help Brad Lidge regain his confidence.   The Phillies bullpen will survive his absence for the time being. 

Ryan Madson is still pitching very well out of the pen, especially in close and late game situations.  And come on, let’s be honest, the way Lidge is pitching now, how can the Phillies win consistently with him available in the bullpen?

Considering that four of his six blown saves have been against teams who are currently in first place in their respective divisions, Lidge’s performance cannot continue if the Phillies want to repeat last year’s success.   But, if Brad can get his groove back, the sky’s the limit for the 2009 Phillies.  Let’s hope he finds it… and quick.


UPDATE: 3:20PM 6/9/2009 — The Phillies announced that Brad Lidge has been placed on the 15-day DL due to a sprained right knee.  Catcher Paul Bako has been called up from Double-A Reading.  

A two-week vacation should do Lidge well, for his knee and his head…

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies