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Baseball Should Adopt NHL Penalty for Failed Challenges

Updated on January 16, 2019

Milwaukee Manager Craig Counsell Lost More Challenges Than Any Other Manager In 2018


Baseball Is Too Traditional To Try Anything As Radical As A Penalty Box, But There Are Some Similar Punishments That Might Work

More than halfway into the hockey season, it is apparent that the new rule has been successful in reducing game-delaying coaches' challenges. Now it is time for the executives at Major League Baseball to adopt a similar rule, which would make managers think twice, or thrice, before asking for a replay challenge.

Beginning two Septembers ago, any coach in the NHL who has challenged a goal due to an off side call has done so at great risk. If after review there was no offside, not only is the goal upheld but the challenging team is punished with a two minute delay of game penalty.

Needless to say few coaches have challenged a goal on the basis of an offside call, a delay tactic that had become almost a nightly practice in recent years. Before the change starting last season the only cost for a lost challenge was a time out, which many coaches do not mind losing if it could possibly erase a goal.

Look at the results, which confirm just how successful the rule change has been. In the 2015-2016 before the change coaches issued 126 offside challenges, a total that dropped dramatically to just 71 last season.

That effectiveness should be enough motivation for the officials of America's pastime which, like professional hockey, has suffered from long delays because of challenges from managers. Such tactics break up the flow of a game many think is too slow to begin with, so managers who lose challenges should face consequences nearly as punitive as those suffered by coaches in the NHL.

Granted, it would be quite intriguing to see baseball adopt a penalty box approach, forcing a team to play one man short in the field or issued an automatic out while at bat. Nothing that radical is going to happen in a game as obsessed with tradition as is baseball, but there are other plausible punishments that could be assigned for teams that lose a challenge.

Since a recent rule change has already limited mound visits to just six per game, this could be further amended to help reduce the annoying challenges that disrupt the sport. When a manager unsuccessfully issues a challenge that is not overturned, he forfeits one of his mound visits.

Obviously that consequence is far less punitive than the delay of game penalty in the NHL, but it would at least serve to make managers think twice before requesting a video review. Last season proved that teams became very cautious in their trips to chat with the pitcher, which also helped reduce the interruptions in the flow of the game.

Other measures are also possible, including the idea of assigning either a strike or a ball to the team whose manager challenge has failed. Neither this penalty or others like it would be quite as effective as the loss of a mound visit, but any steps to reduce manager challenges would be a step in the right direction.


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