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After nearly a month, Orioles have mixed reviews for baseball's new replay system

Club has only challenged one play — and successfully — but some players believe the system could be faster and less confusing

April 28, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun

When the Orioles were in New York to play the Yankees earlier this month, Gladstone visited baseball's Replay Operations Center in New York, where he took notice of everything down to the lighting of the room to see how it could help him do his job better.

'An evolving process'

When the new replay system was introduced, Major League Baseball promised to constantly evaluate it and make changes when necessary. And Friday, it adjusted the interpretation of the highly unpopular transfer rule on double-play attempts.

Baseball officials recognized that the rule, which changed the definition of possession to include a clean transfer from the glove hand to the throwing hand, prompted mass confusion in the first four weeks of the season.

"When we set out on this process, we said it would be an evolving process, and we will continue to make the system better as we go along," Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said about the transfer rule.

A day after the Orioles won their challenge on the call involving Cruz at first base, they suffered from the initial interpretation of the transfer rule during the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast when shortstop Ryan Flaherty lost control of the ball on the transfer while attempting to turn a double play.

Showalter didn't challenge the play, knowing that the call wasn't getting overturned in the first month of the season.

"I knew they weren't going to overrule that exchange," Showalter said. "It was 40 degrees, and Zach [Britton] is sitting on the mound for another two minutes. It's just worth the fact that it's not going to happen.

"The umpire even said, 'You're not going to check that? I went, 'No.' He said, 'Really?' I have a lot of confidence in Adam. He's worked very hard at it."

'Something to talk about'

A primary complaint from players about the system is that it takes too long and disrupts the pace of the game.

"So far, I don't think it's been run very well because I think it's slowing the game down," shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "I don't like, every close play, someone is coming out, just waiting [whether to challenge]. It bothers me.

"It can affect us. It definitely affects the pitcher when he's just sitting there waiting for a play to be called. I think they need to get the calls right. They should be able to review them, but this whole thing they're doing just doesn't seem to be working the way I was kind of thinking it would."

Showalter said that, in most cases, he already has word whether to challenge by the time he gets to the umpire.

"You know how I hate slowing the game down," Showalter said. "I have a lot of confidence in Adam that I've never had to be out there and wait. I've been so impressed with him. He's already made 15 to 20 good decisions. … Sometimes it's just as tough a decision to not challenge it."

Entering Monday's games, the average time from the challenge to a ruling has been 2 minutes, 6 seconds, but just 18 reviews have taken less than a minute.

"I think we thought it would be a little more efficient process than it's been," Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said. "Obviously, we don't see all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes when they make a call, but I think we thought it was going to be a little quicker, a little more efficient. It's still early. I'm all for getting the call right, but I think it probably does distract from the game."

Showalter said the growing pains are worth the endgame.

"I love the fact that it has people talking about baseball," Showalter said. "I think it's a real source to give people something to talk about, and for the most part, that's a good thing. … We all confuse change for a lack of respect for tradition. I don't think that's the case. I think when the finished product is there, people will like it.

"If you took it out right now, what would be the response? You would have five plays today where people would be asking for replay."

eencina@baltsun.com

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