There's no question that professional baseball players are terrific athletes, but there are a few select players who have Academy Award-caliber acting skills on top of their athletic prowess.
Especially when it comes to "selling" an umpire on the fact that he's been hit by a pitch.
In the example above, there is no question that Chicago's Darwin Barney gets plunked by Miami's Steve Cishek in this game between the Cubs and Marlins on July 14, 2011. You can see—and hear—the ball smack into Barney's back.
Let's say that instead of plunking Barney in the back, Cishek works him inside, with the ball coming close enough to Barney that he drops to the ground and grabs his ribs, feigning that he was hit by the pitch.
Let's also say that there were two outs instead of one and that the runners were moving on the pitch.
That play would not be reviewable, according to MLB.com's Paul Hagen, who got the lowdown from Atlanta president John Schuerholz, who was part of the committee that drew up the new replay rules:
Schuerholz used a disputed hit-by-pitch call as a play that would not be reviewable, noting that if runners were moving on the pitch, it would be extremely difficult for the umpires to decide which bases they should be entitled to.
"Most of those plays, when you see them, are plays that if they are turned over, the reset of the runners and the play would be mind-boggling," Schuerholz said. "It would be a nightmare. So that's the way we've chosen to start."
In this case, a manager would be allowed to charge out of the dugout and argue his case—but he would not be able to challenge the play, one where instant replay would clearly show whether the ball struck Barney in the ribs or not.
Seems to me that MLB is opening up a Pandora's Box by ruling such a play non-reviewable, and that, really, it's inviting players to create baseball's version of the "flopping" that we see go on in the NBA on a nightly basis.