It was just a matter of time before somebody exposed a loophole in Major League Baseball’s expanded replay system.
Never satisfied with accepting things the way others believe the things should be accepted, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon studied baseball’s new replay system and is now coaching his players on how to take advantage of it.
The basis of Maddon’s strategy is that baseball is not limited by a clock. Therefore, unlike other sports such as basketball and football, the ball is often not dead even after a player has been ruled safe or out.
As a result, Maddon is coaching his players to keep playing after an out, even if it is the third out and ends an inning.
The reasoning behind this is to anticipate the play being reviewed. If an out is overturned and a player is ruled safe, umpires may be forced to honour what happens after the out, such as players advancing extra bases.
An example of this “loophole” and how Maddon is coaching his players to take advantage of the system came up during Tuesday’s spring training game against the Blue Jays.
On a bunt back to the pitcher, David DeJesus ran past home plate and was called out by the umpire.
However, despite being called out, DeJesus was urged by the dugout to go back and touch the plate.
Running back to touch the plate looks silly. But in the regular season this could lead to a run.
DeJesus later said that he never touched the plate and the catcher never tagged him. “I snuck back to the plate just for video replay,” DeJesus said after the game. “You never know.”
If DeJesus did not return to touch the plate and the play was reviewed, the umpires would not have been able to rule him safe even if it was clear he wasn’t tagged. However, by going back to touch the plate, a run could potentially have been given to the Rays.
Another example of how the Rays are adjusting coaching because of the new replay rules, as outlined in the Tampa Bay Times, occurs with the Rays are on defence with two outs and runners on base. If there is a ground ball and a close play at first base, the players are being coached to try to get other runners out even if the inning is over.
The thinking is that if the runner at first base is ruled safe, the inning may still be ruled over if the Rays tag another runner out.
Maddon prefers the term “nuances” over “loopholes.” Either way, it is clear that baseball is far too complicated of a sport for instant replay rules to cover all scenarios.
The result may be chaos in the first year or two.
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