June 14, 2008

Upon further review, He's out!!!: MLB Pushes for some form of instant replay.

posted by firecop to baseball at 12:20 AM - 25 comments

They are going to institute a major rule change in the middle of the season!?

posted by grum@work at 01:15 AM on June 14, 2008

Based on what they plan to use it for (verifying disputable home runs), this doesn't sound that major to me. How often does a controversial home run call occur? A handful of times per season? And in this case, if done right (big "if" there), it will speed the game up, not slow it down. Because instead of a massive umpire conference and one or both managers coming out to argue and chewing up 10 minutes, the call will be reviewed and confirmed or overturned more quickly than that. At the very least, I've always thought baseball should have replay in the playoffs, where the games matter more. It could probably live without in in the regular season, but I'm not against it in a case as minor as this.

posted by TheQatarian at 06:54 AM on June 14, 2008

Let's just do away with all officials and let the announcers review all plays in the broadcast booth over and over and let them make the calls. Just take the human factor out of the game completely. I really don't need to watch sports anyhow. Maybe I will get some exercise and not worry about who wins or loses. As the dog on the Bush Beans says, " That is crazy"!!

posted by coach at 08:36 AM on June 14, 2008

Thank goodness MLB is finding a way to make the world's slowest moving sport even slower. It has always been my dream to see a pitcher fool around on the mound for up to a minute between pitches, then have the batter call time, go back to on deck circle to get more pine tar, fiddle around for up to a minute to get back into the batters box, only to have the pitcher shake off two pitches, throw a ball out of strike zone intentionally, repeat the process at least two more times, finally throw a strike, have the batter actually swing and make contact, drive the ball to the top of the wall, and then allow for 5-10 minutes of arguing by team players, managers, base coaches and umpires, only to call for a review with probably no time limit (why start now?). I can hardly wait for a 20 minute "at bat"..zzzzzz...zzzzzz....zzzzzz..wake me when it' over

posted by knowsalittle at 09:08 AM on June 14, 2008

Of all the major sports, I think baseball will have the hardest time making instant replay work, especially when it's about fair or foul home run calls. It's a big field with a small ball and we've all seen replays where you can't tell which side of the foul pole the ball sailed by. I think they're going to have to increase the number of cameras and probably mount one on top of both foul poles.

posted by Shotput at 09:25 AM on June 14, 2008

I feel like espn tried forcing this and is getting their way. I don't watch a lot of Sportscenter or Baseball Tonight but it seemed like every time it's been on recently they are pushing for replay. Is there really this much outcry for replay? It's not a bad idea, sure go get replay. I'm just amazed at the power of the ESPN.

posted by tron7 at 10:51 AM on June 14, 2008

As a Rockies fan, I'm all for it. Last year they lost two games because of blown HR calls. They would've avoided the play-in game if not for that. Further, in the play-in game itself, they were robbed of another HR by Garrett Atkins, which would've obviated the need for extra innings and the infamous Holliday home plate call (which itself would probably have been overturned). Of course, this year we're so el-sucko that no amount of overturned calls will make a difference.

posted by drumdance at 01:20 PM on June 14, 2008

I wonder how this will work. American Football, for example, penalizes coaches who (more or less) abuse it by docking timeouts. In baseball, there's no equivalent penalty you can dole out to a manager who suddenly wants to start challenging "close" plays to give his bullpen more time to warm up. Any ideas?

posted by MKUltra at 03:53 PM on June 14, 2008

I'm hoping that the umpires' union gives this a resounding NO! It will be the camel's nose inside the tent. Next will be replays using Quest Tech on disputed third strike or 4th ball calls, then they will do away with all ball-strike calls, and use the plate umpire only for safe/out calls at the plate. Who knows where it might go? Baseball is played by humans, and should be officiated by humans relying on the human eyeball. The only consistent problem noted so far with major league umpiring is the home run call. This could be fixed by removing whatever causes for confusion exist in any given stadium. Disputed calls from seasons past could be looked at, and the problems addressed. I'm thinking clearer markings for foul poles, restraints to keep fans from reaching into the field of play, removal of structures that might cause a ball from caroming back into the field of play after entering the stands, and so on. Don't yield to the temptation of gadgetry. Give the umpires a better view, and let it go at that.

posted by Howard_T at 04:00 PM on June 14, 2008

I agree wtih Howard T on the slippery slope / "what comes next?". But on face value, the proposal is to use video to verify fair / foul, over the fence. Why not simply make it available to the umpires if they want to double check before continuing the game on a call they are not sure about? It doesn't need to be a coaches challenge like football. It would level the playing field for what we have already seen happening. 1. clearly wrong call against home team 2. home team shows video on jumbo tron over and over while umps confer 3. one of the umps notices the video even though they aren't supposed to 4. play gets overturned If play / call was in favor of home team, it is never shown on the jumbotron creating an advantage.

posted by endorfin at 05:00 PM on June 14, 2008

Call me a traditionalist or old fogee, but I'm against this change. Like the way the game is played right now and human error is not going to change that many blown calls by umpires. I didn't read all of the comments and this may have been say before-not sure it will stop with home runs only. Use the instant replay to get rid of umpires with extraordinary amount of blow calls. Weed them out, just like major league ball teams keeps the best players for their lineups.

posted by giveuptheghost at 06:02 PM on June 14, 2008

Come on people. Baseball, like football, is no longer a sport, it is simply big business dealing in the entertainment of the fans. If, for some unknown reason, the umpires are down on a certain team, this would level the playing field for them and the millions of dollars at stake. I have seen many plays called obviously wrong that have completely changed the complexion of the game. If the managers were given a limit on how many plays may be challenged (as they are in football), then only those that really matter would be looked at. Homeruns that carom back into the field of play should receive an automatic review. This is becoming necessary to straighten out the crooked umpires and reinforce the good ones. Any umpire worth his salt should welcome the chance to prove he has made the proper call. Unlike football where you have to wonder if the player "made a football move" after he got the ball; how many feet did he have down, did the ball cross the plane of the goal line, etc., these reviews should take only a minute to see if the ball cleared the fence or if the tag was made. Hooray for finally taking some action. By the way, if baseball is too slow moving for you, there is a channel selector you can use to switch to cricket, soccer, or some other sissy sport.

posted by RAZORDODGER at 06:35 PM on June 14, 2008

Thank goodness MLB is finding a way to make the world's slowest moving sport even slower. Ahem. I believe cricket holds that title, and has for a number of years the umpires have used TV replays on close run-out decisions, and to verify if a catch has been taken. It hasn't really slowed the game down. They tried using it for more types of dismissal, but the results were mixed, as even slow-mo doesn't always help with some catches behind the wicket or leg-before-wicket appeals. A minor point for cricket historians is that use of TV replays might affect comparison of statistics across eras, as it removes the 'give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman' element in an umpire's thinking. There could be more decisions going against batsmen.

posted by owlhouse at 02:28 AM on June 15, 2008

And razordodger, cricket is not always a slow moving or gentleman's game. Did you know that most fast bowlers have in their repertoire a perfectly legal delivery known as a 'bouncer'? It is deliberately aimed at the batsman's head or upper body, and is designed to unsettle and intimidate. Face one of those at 90-100 mph and tell me it's a sissy sport.

posted by owlhouse at 02:32 AM on June 15, 2008

I'm with grum on this one. The middle of the season in no time for a major rule change.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:35 AM on June 15, 2008

While I'm not excited about the possibility of the game slowing down, I am all for this. One, it's not a major rule change. It is just an improvement in how the current rules will be enforced. Two, with some of the quirks that numerous parks have, the umpires are having a tough time judging HR's. This does not happen often, however it does happen. Won't affect many games, and will help those that it does.

posted by dviking at 10:00 AM on June 15, 2008

The only consistent problem noted so far with major league umpiring is the home run call It's only to be used for "boundary issue calls" apparently. Is there really this much outcry for replay? Yes. The Red Sox have gotten screwed on probably 6 missed home runs in the past 3 years. There have been about a dozen this year that led to this CHicken Little point where MLB is talking about putting it in mid-season. In baseball, there's no equivalent penalty you can dole out to a manager who suddenly wants to start challenging "close" plays to give his bullpen more time to warm up. Any ideas? Sure, don't let managers have any control over it, which is apparently how the MLB is structuring it. The idea that (maybe) a hundred reviews a year is going to noticeably slow down the game is laughable and sounds like a complaint from "fans" who don't care for baseball.

posted by yerfatma at 12:36 PM on June 15, 2008

Not sure how I feel about this. Baseball seems to have survived quite a long time without it. And yes, a major rule change mid season is BAD. In Formula One it's explicitly forbidden... Which is why the FIA call them "clarifications", to get around their own rules.

posted by Drood at 01:54 AM on June 16, 2008

While giving the umpires credit where credit is due, they do a pretty good job out there. I would have to place the controversy blame on the teams who, instead of fences, simply paint a yellow line to mark where the homerun shot would have to clear. These types of situations should be regulated in future construction and be eliminated from construction plans by MLB. If there were a fence and the baseball clears the fence, IT IS A HOMERUN. If it doesn't, the BALL IS IN PLAY. It used to be that simple until stadiums were built with yellow lines instead of fences. Let's get it fixed before every stadium has yellow lines. Give the umps a chance to be able to make accurate calls. I don't have any stats to back this up, but I would guess that the umps are correct in their calls at least 98% of the time. Despite this accuracy level, the replay would be necessary due to the statistic minded players and fans. How would player Z feel if he were to come up one homerun short of the all time hoimerun record and know that he had been cheated out of four or five during his career? We have to have a way to get it right until fences once again replace yellow lines.

posted by RAZORDODGER at 11:15 AM on June 16, 2008

I don't get those calling it a "major rule change". It's not a "rule change" at all, it's an addition to the accuracy of calls. A major rule change would be something like "Ground rule doubles are now homeruns. Thanks, the mgmt". This is merely saying that in a close call from a hundred feet away, the umpires can be sure that a shot is a homerun by using a quick replay to be sure. And it won't take a huge amount of time- probably less than currently is used with managers and players arguing. Presumably on every homerun, the "war room" booth will do a quick slo-mo replay 2-3 times, and before either manager can even cross the foul line will have pretty clear video evidence of what happened, which they can then relay to the on-field umpires to make the final call with confidence. If the ball bounces back into the field, players simply play as if it's still in play; if the ball leaves the field and stays out, it's dead whether foul or fair. The homerun has no ripple effect where the real-time decision of the umpire before the next pitch will affect the game play. Taking 30 seconds on those rare "That was awfully close, I'm calling it a homerun but let's do a quick check up in the booth" will improve game accuracy at no real expense to the style of play or game length. I was at the Mariners game Sunday (rooting for the Nationals, hoping that they would win, sweep the M's, and that would finally get the front office to shake things up- which they have, by firing Bill Bavasi today), and with the score tied 2-2 in the 8th inning there was a homerun by a Nat player that many in the stadium felt was a foul ball. As it turned out, it apparently hit the foul pole and bounce into the right-field foul section just to the right- thus, a clear homerun since the foul pole is in fair territory- but in person it looked like a ball that simply curved foul and the ump had blown the call. The normally complacent M's fans booed for a solid inning and a half, including the sarcastic homerun signals given by fans on every foul ball on the first base side. However, had there been instant replay options for the umpires, we would have seen a homerun call, a quick conference, and 60 seconds later the fans (and perhaps the jumbotron) would have shown the clear evidence it was a homerun. So how could anyone be opposed to a rarely used instant replay for high-impact calls that nevertheless only occur a few times a year for any given team? It's not like we're moving to a challenge system on every ball and strike.

posted by hincandenza at 07:05 PM on June 16, 2008

I am 50 years old. I have been a baseball fan as long as I can remember(Cubs,...ya that's right Cubs). Never have I said out loud, or to myself for that matter, that this game is to slow. This is baseball. No clock, no sudden death, no set time limit, no set innings. It's baseball. In this day and age of instant gratification, I enjoy the slow pace. I can go from the car to my TV and not miss much.Your remote control is right there by your Barko Lounger. Turn it off if it bores you. And feel free to never turn baseball on again. Anything to make the game more accurate is fine with me. And for the record, I despise officials in any sport who suck. Baseball has their share of fat old men who can't, or don't run down the line to see what is sometimes obvious. The problem with extended replay(trapped balls and fair or foul), is what do you do with the base runners.

posted by scuubie at 09:57 PM on June 16, 2008

But scuuble, for most disputed homeruns it's simply a question of fair/foul. For those that bounce back on the field, all players would simply act as if the ball was still in play. All a homerun call- or replay override- would do is to simply send everyone home, or allow any post-bounce action to stand as played. I suppose there's a case where the ball bounces back into play, the umpire calls "homerun", the replay shows it wasn't actually a homerun, and the fans/players rightly ask "Well, when he signaled homerun, we stopped running..." But I'd suggest again that the critical element is "If the ball bounces into play, play it out." Instant replay allows for any post-bounce action such as thrown out runners to be negated if the ball proves to be a homerun, but not the reverse. So I still don't think there's an issue here.

posted by hincandenza at 05:07 AM on June 17, 2008

"I enjoy the slow pace. I can go from the car to my TV and not miss much.Your remote control is right there by your Barko Lounger. Turn it off if it bores you. And feel free to never turn baseball on again. -" I have turned it off before; I do now, and if the TV ratings for MLB over the last 2-4 years are any indication, so is most of America. I think I will take your advice and never turn it on again unless I have insomnia. Most of my friends and co-workers feel the exact same way. Sure, there are several die-hard Cub, Yankee, Red Sox, Cardinal, Dodger and other old school franchise fans, but most of today's modern American sport fans just can't live with the plodding pace of MLB, replay or no. Adding something else to discuss/argue over/review/unnecesarily delay the game will not change anyone's mind.

posted by knowsalittle at 09:55 AM on June 19, 2008

Sure, there are several die-hard Cub, Yankee, Red Sox, Cardinal, Dodger and other old school franchise fans, but most of today's modern American sport fans just can't live with the plodding pace of MLB, replay or no. I can't possibly explain to you how vehemently I disagree with this statement. My team is terrible, (Royals) but I still watch them every night. (Woot! Five game winning streak!) I also know a large number of people in this area are the same way. Sure some of them only watch during the summer because it's the only sport in season that remotely interests them, but most are avid fans.

posted by hawkguy at 10:13 AM on June 19, 2008

if the TV ratings for MLB over the last 2-4 years are any indication, so is most of America Cite, please? Everything I've read in actual publications with reporters says MLB ratings are strong. Ticket sales have been up. Feels a whole lot like you're just trolling. But who knows, maybe your 2,048 friends and co-workers represents America at large.

posted by yerfatma at 10:41 AM on June 19, 2008

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