Did you hear the good news? Major League Baseball is going to use replays to review umpires' calls starting next season. That should speed up the game, huh? It's like Heinz announcing it's adding a new ingredient to slow the course of ketchup to burger.

And in its quite finite wisdom, MLB has decided each manager should get three challenges. That's a potential six more stoppages per game in a sport already fraught with excessive downtime. And you can bet they'll use them.

The biggest complaint against the game is that it is too slow, especially in this instant gratification world. No one is moaning that the game would be perfect if only the umpires got every call right. So MLB has developed a solution for a nonexistent problem. And, by the way, how's that whole replay idea working in the NFL? They still get the calls wrong - it just takes longer.

If the so-called brain trust that runs MLB really wanted to help the game, they'd find a way to speed up the action. They should enforce current rules that are on the books. Rule 8.04 allows the pitcher 12 seconds from the time he receives the ball until he throws his next pitch if the batter is in the box. Have you ever seen it used? Rule 8.05 allows the umpire to call a balk if the pitcher unnecessarily delays the game, and then he can advance any runners on base. And Mr. Umpire, tell the batter to stop all his twitching, posturing and adjusting his helmet and gloves and get in the batter's box. Then count to 12.

If you perhaps count a bit too fast we can always check the instant replay.

STEPHEN M. HECK

Rio Grande