Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Expanded instant replay under review

After several years of dragging his feet, Bud Selig and his cronies have finally proposed a system for expanding instant replay in baseball.

According to the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin:

The system outlined Thursday would allow managers to challenge three calls during a game, and to contest virtually anything except calls of balls and strikes. If the call is overturned, the manager is not deducted a challenge.

Video review will be conducted at a centralized headquarters in New York, not by the umpires at the game, so that may help speed the process along and take some ego-related issues out of the equation.

If Selig gets his way, the new system will be in place next season and we can find out whether the trade off of longer games for (hopefully) more accurate calls is worth it.

I’d be more optimistic if the expanded replay proposal was being announced in conjunction with a program for increased umpire training and accountability.

Baseball players are expected to talk to the media when they are involved in controversial plays, and their stats are put up on the scoreboard for all to see. If they don’t measure up, they lose their jobs to someone who might be better. Why not start holding umpires to the same standards?

What do you think of Bud Selig’s instant replay solution?


9 thoughts on “Expanded instant replay under review

  1. Paul,

    Umpires ARE held to the same standard as players. The only difference is that whatever stats they have (Jim Joyce has made ten egregious calls so far this season) aren’t put up on any scoreboard nor is umpire discipline usually made public (that blown HR call even after the replay earlier this season being the rare one). But, like any player, there’s no guarantee that when an umpire finally makes it to the major leagues he’ll stay there. Just like players, some are good AAA umps but can’t cut it in “the show.”

    As for me, I’m against replay for two simple reasons. The first is that there’s not a soul on that field who wouldn’t want one back at one time or another–a pitcher with a pitch, a manager with a call–whatever. And umpires are included in that. The game is played by humans and officiated by humans. Humans make mistakes. You make mistakes. I make mistakes. That’s life. Deal with it.

    The second is, absent of boundary calls, where do you place the runners on overturned calls?


    1. I agree with you on the replay issue, but I’m willing to wait and see how it actually works out before I start finding fault with the new process.

      I think that we’re more or less stuck with it now that tv broadcasts have so many cameras and the pace of baseball lets them show fans so many replays.

      I’m aware that MLB evaluates their umpires, but it doesn’t seem like those evaluations have any meaning. Angel Hernandez is in his 22nd season, and most of the other umpires who earn fan & player ire are long-time veterans.


      1. Paul,

        I’m an umpire (high school). So, a natural reaction is to defend them.

        If a guy like Angel Hernandez is still in the league, it’s likely because he still has the skills and whatever ire you’re talking about is probably blown out of proprtion just a bit. But, in the same breath, there appear to be some of the men in blue who sometimes go above and beyond when it comes to beligerence. I’d like to think that, even after 22 years, MLB would quietly retire a guy like Hernandez if he weren’t measuring up.

        As far as replay, if it works like the NHL version, I’m willing to give it a look. If it works like the NFL version, no thanks. But there still has to be that consideration as to where to place runners when a call gets changed, which is a reason that I’m very hesitant to institute this.


      2. I’d be satisfied with a FanGraphs type site that kept track of the percentage of right or wrong calls made by individual umpires. For all I know, MLB umpires are getting 499 out of 500 calls correct and certain ones just coincidentally make their bad calls in games I happen to be watching.

        Some actual data would do more to stop the “umpires are terrible” arguments than replay, I think.


  2. I’m all for instant replay. It’s about time. Mark is right. The game is played by humans. If we have the technology to correct a Don Denkinger 1985 call- let’s do it.


  3. “If the call is overturned, the manager is not deducted a challenge.”

    I don’t understand this. So basically they’re giving the managers three potentially unwarranted interruptions per game? It shouldn’t matter if the call is overturned or not, a challenge should be expended at every invocation of the rule, right or wrong. If the umps really suck one night you could see endless challenges. Can the umpires eject the managers for abusing the challenge system, thus revoking all of their challenges for the game?

    That aside, it is absolutely critical that the umpires have access to ALL of the same angles we get to see on television. If the announcers and home audience can clearly see how a play should be called, the umps need to be able to have that same clarity. Hell, just stick an umpire with the scorekeeper in the production booth with the director of the telecast.


    1. The devil is in the details… let’s see what we get next year. I would have preferred a system with an official in the booth (or a central location) who was monitoring the game and could automatically review what appeared to be bad calls instead of challenges, but I suppose Bud Selig couldn’t resist the dramatic touch.


    2. Jason,

      Given what you said, an interesting thought just crossed my mind. And that is: At what he considers a critical point in the game, what’s stopping a manager from making a challenge, even if he knows he’s dead wrong, just to disrupt the opposing pitcher, for instance?

      As far as putting an umpire in the production truck, first, just as the NHL does l its reviews out of a central location (Toronto), so will MLB (NYC). Second, if you check back through old Sporting News (’85 or ’86), you find a letter to the editor from yours truly about this very subject when the NFL started discussing replay. Essentially, it said what you did. Did the NFL listen? No. 🙂


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