The Little League World Series is over. Japan won the title game over Hawaii.
Little League will evaluate the new double-elimination format that saw Hawaii become the first team in the LLWS history to play seven games over the 10-day period. That may be too many.
With the pitch count rules tightened, increasing the days off needed before a pitcher could take the mound again, Hawaii ended up having to pitch a youngster who was sixth on the depth chart and hadn’t pitched in the regional or LLWS.
That is not necessarily bad, but does created a real disadvantage, pitching-wise, for a team that has to play often to avoid elimination.
Even the major leagues were taking a look at another innovation by Little League.
For the first time, the video replay rules were expanded to cover almost every play except balls and strikes.
A video replay official and an umpire worked the replay system. To overrule a call on the field, the replay had to be clear and convincing that the call was wrong.
There were 15 reviews during the 10 days and seven resulted in a reversal.
All but one review was for calls of safe or out on the bases. The other was whether a batter had been hit by a pitch.
Umpires, all of whom are volunteers who pay their own way to Williamsport, Pa., had the option of asking for a review any time they wanted. Interestingly, that happened only once.
That was one of the surprises or Little League officials who had asked the umpires to view the system as a seventh ump (six are used each game) and not as a system that was challenging their calls.
Little League made the point that the idea was to get calls right, not to embarrass anyone.
What reduced the umpire requests was the new rule that allowed managers to ask for a review. As long as the manager’s request proved him right, he could make as many requests per game as desired.
If he asked for a review and the ruling on the field was incorrect, he lost his right to any further challenge.
This seemed to create a situation in which the umpires simply waited for the manager to ask for the review, and if he didn’t, they assumed they were right.
It might also be that no matter what the umpires were told, they viewed the system as putting the burden on the managers to act if they thought a mistake had been made and thus trigger the review.
The results are striking in that there were only 15 requests, only one came from the umps and half the calls were reversed.
That would seem to indicate the system was needed, the managers were leery of losing their one challenge and the umpires need to understand using a review system on close plays can only help get it right and they will get the credit for doing so.
MLB is watching.