Point: Throw the Flag

Brendan, you Big Brother loving, newspeak talking, class of 1984 fascist. What is this, Minority Report? You want to entrust our national pastime to some anonymous overlords watching the game in a booth somewhere? This is America. What would John Hancock say about such a concentration of power? This is exactly the kind of thing that led Paul Revere to ring bells warning the British (#PalinHistory).

No. Here in the U-S-of-A we need to spread the decisionmaking authority around. We need to empower the people most effected by the outcome. We need to adopt the NFL/College Football replay model.

Managers will have a limited number of challenges (I am thinking 1 per team per game) and they will indicate a challenge to a play by throwing something onto the playing field. But, let’s all agree that the red flag in the NFL has two huge flaws that need to be addressed in baseball’s takeoff.

First, the flag is silly. I know the flag screams football, but I still think it looks dumb. So, our guys are going to throw whiffleballs.

Second, NFL coaches refuse to throw the flag. They just kind of drop it on the sideline in the most sheepish way possible. Say what you want about Jon Gruden – and I said plenty while he was our head coach – he always made his challenge throws count. In our system, if the skipper wants a challenge, he’s going to have to prove it by hitting the umpire that made the disputed call with the whiffleball. The throw can be made from any place in foul ground near or in the dugout and the throw-er gets 1-2 steps. But, if he wants to challenge a call made by an umpire down the foul line in a playoff game, he’s going to have to muscle up. (This has the added incentive of requiring the managers to get into better shape and not look so ridiculous in their uniforms).

We’ll need one other change to fully adopt the NFL replay system. The lack of timeouts means we need a different disincentive for a failed challenge. After serious contemplation and soul searching I am down to two options that I cannot pick between:

  1. Challenges are only allowed in innings 1-6 (innings 7-9 are the equivalent of the final two minutes in football) and, a manager that challenges a call and loses is required to sing a Take me Out to the Ballgame solo on top of the dugout during the 7th inning stretch; or
  2. A manager that challenges a call and loses is immediately suspended for one inning. During the one-inning suspension the manager can’t be in the tunnel or clubhouse. Rather, he has to sit in a sound proof booth (like the ones they used on $10,000 pyramid or Family Feud) that is located in the on-deck circle.

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