October 10, 2009

Another call for instant replay: "The human element. That's the best argument purists muster against widespread instant replay in Major League Baseball," writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. "Let's see how that works: Umpires make mistakes because they're human, and -- that makes it OK! Somehow, it's difficult to believe such reasoning would stand up in a court of law or, say, anywhere in the world not populated by baseball's dopey decision makers who don't understand that a huge integrity problem is about to smack them in the face."

posted by jemikeos to baseball at 11:59 PM - 16 comments

"One game's replays, if all played, would consume 10 to 12 minutes and might save time, too, presuming umpire-manager confrontations over blown calls would dip dramatically."

Wanna bet? While replay likely would have corrected the errors, as well as some bang-bang plays at the bases, the time length of games already is too long. Another 12 to 15 minutes, on top of three-hour-plus games, would not be beneficial to the sport.

posted by jjzucal at 02:57 AM on October 11, 2009

So it is beneficial to have blatantly blown calls that clearly have an impact on the game's outcome instead?

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:20 AM on October 11, 2009

And the next step is to allow video cameras to call balls and strikes.

Sorry, but I think IR sucks. Let the humans play and officiate and make mistakes. Perfection is boring.

posted by scully at 07:37 AM on October 11, 2009

it's difficult to believe such reasoning would stand up in a court of law

It's just sports. It's not "a court of law". So why bring that up?

A blown call is a blown call. It's part of the game.

Look how replay and challenges have ruined the NFL (and yet they manage to add more commercial breaks during the game with every new season).

the romanticizing of the human element in umpiring turns instead into another thing so great about humans[:] the ability to recognize when you're wrong.

Makes no sense!

posted by The_Special_Juan at 12:20 PM on October 11, 2009

Look how replay and challenges have ruined the NFL ...

I think there are too many commercial breaks in the NFL. But the league's TV ratings are the highest in 20 years. Now that replay review is used for an immediate commercial break, the boringness of review isn't as apparent at home. If they are using those breaks in place of a TV timeout -- and I don't know if they are -- it wouldn't lengthen the game.

posted by rcade at 12:29 PM on October 11, 2009

I'm all for replay in the playoffs, but I can live without it in the regular season. The playoff games are too critical, and you've got to get the calls right if at all possible. And I really don't buy this "human element is part of the game" crap. If you can get it right, then get it right. Give the manager a red flag just like the NFL has for head coaches, and review the critical calls. Would it really take any longer than it takes when the manager comes out and yells at the umpires for blowing a call? I'm pretty sure the only reason Gardy didn't come out and blow a gasket is that he couldn't see it from his angle.

posted by TheQatarian at 12:34 PM on October 11, 2009

Why am I not hearing any compromises? This is not an absolute situation! I think IR is prudent (15 minutes, obviously, is an exaggeration) in the post-season because of its significance. During the regular season, I would limit it to the last 1, maybe 2, innings if the contest is close, and to OT. Also, the networks are limited to the same number of commercials per hour, so that's not an issue.

posted by GreenWasabe at 01:18 PM on October 11, 2009

Speaking of the human element, a study found that in line calls in tennis, the vast majority of human mistakes come on out calls that were actually in. It's because of a flaw in our visual perception.

Although replay could solve things like the terrible foul-line call in that playoff game, I'd rather see sports put technology in the balls that can make in-or-out calls whenever possible.

posted by rcade at 02:10 PM on October 11, 2009

Today in the Sox/Angels game Napoli was hitting when the pitch hit off the knob of his bat. The catcher immediately pointed to the knob of the bat, and Napoli started to simply get ready for the next pitch when you could see something click in his head and he pointed to his forearm. The pitch came no where near his forearm. The umpire missed the sound of the ball hitting wood (unlike the catcher) and missed that Napoli gave away that the ball didn't hit him.

A replay would have corrected the call. It sucks when that happens to your team. And still, I'm completely against almost any change.

I do think that bad umps should be fired. Does that happen? Is the union too strong? Bucknor missed two easy calls in the first game of the series. He's been voted twice as worst umpire by the players. Shouldn't they know? Why is he still umpiring? And why in the playoffs?

I think you might see additions to the home run replays, fair or foul, catch or no catch maybe, but I'm against much more, especially balls and strikes. I guess I simply believe that the better team wins 99.99 percent of the time. If it costs my team believe me, I'll complain, and I'll curse the umpire, but I won't be asking for replay.

That wouldn't work. The 9th inning is no more important to the game than the 1st. A game can be won or lost in any inning.

posted by justgary at 03:35 PM on October 11, 2009

As a Twins fan, I'm not cursing out Phil Cuzzi like many others. Aside from Nathan's blown save and failing to get a run across with the bases loaded and no one out in the 11th, I can also totally understand how Cuzzi missed that call. The left fielder was coming right in toward the line, and he was probably closer to the play than was beneficial. Had it been a regular season game and had Cuzzi been the third base umpire, I'd bet he gets that call right.

Which leads to another reason I favor replay in the postseason: Umpires are going to make mistakes, but such a system would likely save them a lot of grief. Cuzzi wouldn't have to spend a minute fretting over his mistake as he did on Friday night. Then we don't have to listen to calls for umpires' heads and they can mostly go about just being anonymous arbiters of the game.

However, C.B. Bucknor is a whole category unto himself as far as being an awful umpire. Replay isn't going to save that idiot from my wrath or anyone else's.

posted by TheQatarian at 05:30 PM on October 11, 2009

totally not in favor of replay for balls and strikes, however, I do think it could be used for other situations without adding to the length of the game.

There are really very few close calls...the one in the Twins game really wasn't close...so I don't see it coming into play too often. Many games would not have a single incident, while others would have at most a few.

posted by dviking at 11:41 PM on October 11, 2009

I am all for technology getting it right and I think baseball should move into the 21st century by allowing IR when it is available. I even go one step further, I believe the technology is available to create an electronic strike zone. When I look at the bad ball and strike calls, I think baseball should enact an electronic or radar strike zone, no guess work. If the ball is in or out of the strike zone a machine can call it.

I am tired of the strike zone being whatever the umpire wants it to be.

posted by Atheist at 03:42 PM on October 12, 2009

...create an electronic strike zone...

While the technology is there, it would require each batter to wear some sort of device to indicate where his knees, waist, and shoulders are. Even then, it probably wouldn't work. The strike zone is defined as from the knees to half way between the shoulders and the waist when the batter is in his normal hitting stance (emphasis mine). Thus, you can see that the zone will be slightly different for each batter.That's one of the things I question about the "K-Zone" or "Pitch Zone" representations you see on the broadcasts. How are they adjusted from batter to batter? The other part of it is the "normal hitting stance" part. If a batter gets into an exaggerated crouch in order to shrink his zone, the umpire is supposed to call the pitches as if he were in a stance to swing the bat.

Any umpire, even the best, will miss several pitches in the course of a game. If he at least tries to be consistent and admits his mistakes, the players can live with it, and the fans should. MLB needs a true rating system for umpires, and needs to be able to somehow demote those who have poor grades. The grading needs to be done over a long term, perhaps as long as a season. The same grading system should be applied to AAA umpires so the best can be moved up as the others are moved down. The umpires' union needs to stop fighting reality and accept this sort of move.

posted by Howard_T at 04:37 PM on October 12, 2009

While the technology is there, it would require each batter to wear some sort of device to indicate where his knees, waist, and shoulders are.

If this is so, how does the Questech system MLB uses (used?) to grade umpires work?

posted by yerfatma at 04:49 PM on October 12, 2009

Hawkeye works in tennis, not so sure it would work in baseball.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:54 AM on October 13, 2009

As I said, I question how the strike zone representations used on TV broadcasts are adjusted for each batter. The same applies to Questech, and as you inferred, it might not be used any more, possibly for this very thing. Until better sensing systems are developed, the strike zone should remain as it is. The problem is not so much with umpires missing calls as it is with a few umpires being very inconsistent.

posted by Howard_T at 05:04 PM on October 13, 2009

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