Full disclosure: I’m an instant replay skeptic. It slows the game, sows seeds of self-doubt with the umpires and cannot guarantee that “every call will be correct.” I also don’t like the manager challenge rule — if replay is so wonderful, why can’t a skipper challenge every play from the first pitch to the last?
One of the flaws in MLB’s new system was exposed late Tuesday night, in the Giants-Diamondbacks game. In the fourth inning, Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged a safe call on a pickoff play at first base involving Arizona runner A.J. Pollock. The ruling was upheld and Bochy lost his challenge. Later in the inning, Pollock scored on a passed ball — it was a really close play, and replay indicated Pollock actually should’ve been called out. But Bochy had no ability to challenge, so the play stood … and the D’backs won by one run.
The lesson for managers is, during the first six innings when you can lose your challenge, never, ever, NEVER challenge any play that doesn’t A) involve a run scoring or B) ends an inning. The lesson for the rest of us is, MLB instant replay is gonna lead to more revisions, tweaks and delays than Obamacare — and that’s a lot.
>> The NL Central might end up as the most well-armed division in the majors this season. The Pirates, Cardinals and Brewers all won shutouts on Opening Day. The Cubs (vs. the Pirates) and Reds (vs. the Cards) were losers, but allowed only one run apiece. After Monday, the five NL Central teams had a combined 0.39 ERA. The bad news was, they also had a combined .183 team batting average.
>> Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago has an interesting piece on Andrew McCutchen, the Cubs and the cost of doing business in MLB. It includes this quote from Cubs GM Theo Epstein about how to navigate the free-agent market: “Ultimately we have to make smart decisions for our situation – the situation we’re in now, and then anticipating the situation we’re going to be in a few years (from now). We just take it all into account and try to chart the path that makes the most sense for us.”
>> The website Swimmingly.com contacted all 30 teams and asked how much it costs to display a marriage proposal on the stadium video scoreboard. At $39, the Pirates have the cheapest rate. The D’backs charge $250, but they’ll also give you a commemorative DVD. For $50, the Reds will have one of their mascots, Rosie Red, visit you in the stands to deliver your proposal on a printed sign. Give the Indians $400, and they’ll let you propose on the field on a fireworks night. The Royals, Angels, Mets, Blue Jays and Orioles are as romantic as a high-and-tight fastball; they don’t offer proposal deals. The best package is offered by the Marlins. For $250, the message will flash on the scoreboard, your and your betrothed will be shown on the video screen and Billy the Marlin will deliver a dozen roses to your seat.
Game 2: Cubs (0-1) @ Pirates (1-0), 7:05 p.m. PNC Park
Cubs: 1. Emilio Bonifacio 2b, 2. Luis Valbuena 3b, 3. Starlin Castro ss, 4. Anthony Rizzo 1b, 5. Nate Schierholtz rf, 6. Ryan Sweeney cf, 7. Wellington Castillo c, 8. Ryan Kalish, 9. Edwin Jackson rhp
Pirates: 1. Starling Marte lf, 2, Travis Snider rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 5. Russell Martin c, 6. Neil Walker 2b, 7. Travis Ishikawa 1b, 8. Jordy Mercer ss, 9. Charlie Morton rhp
– Rob Biertempfel