Expanded Replay Probably Coming, Probably Flawed

Major League Baseball is looking to expand its instant-replay review system in time for the 2014 regular season. This much has been known for a while, and it’s been discussed and debated several times over. I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who still has a fresh and original take on the matter of replay review. Opinions have been established. Minds have been made up. Now, though, we do get some details about a plan proposal. There’s been a meeting in Cooperstown, and I’ll allow Ken Rosenthal to take it away:

Baseball owners are considering a proposal under which managers would initiate replay reviews.
[...]
Under the proposed rules, managers will be allowed two challenges over the first six innings of games and one after the seventh inning. Calls that are challenged will be reviewed by a crew in MLB headquarters in New York City, which will make the final ruling.

Nothing is yet set in stone — as Rosenthal notes, it’s all subject to change and the owners will vote in November. The plan would then need approval from both the players and the umpires, although there seems to be a general air of optimism. We don’t know that expanded replay will involve a challenge system, but it seems to be the likelihood. It’s unclear whether umpires could initiate other reviews, and it’s unclear whether there would be penalties for unsuccessful challenges.

It seems to me this is a sure-fire way to leave nobody satisfied. People who are opposed to expanded replay will remain opposed to expanded replay. People in favor of expanded replay won’t understand the limitations. And those are the two groups. This really is a fairly black-and-white issue, as rare as that is, and this smells like a halfhearted compromise.

I’ll say this much — this would still count as progress. A further expansion of replay would be better than no expansion of replay, in the way that tracking errors is better than not tracking errors. Even though challenges would be limited, there are only so many close calls in any given game, so rarely would a manager run out of chances. And of course, additional close calls might be reviewed anyway. MLB couldn’t go from the current system to the ideal system overnight. That’s unrealistic, and there need to be stages, and this would be a step forward, hopefully one of several.

It’s the message I find most troubling. Baseball is concerned about game duration, and they don’t want to slow things down any further, hence the challenge limitation. Allow limitless challenges and games might drag on for three and a half, four hours, I don’t know. There’s no telling how quickly a review could be carried out. But by limiting challenges in the proposal, baseball shows that it prioritizes duration concerns over call-accuracy concerns. Trying to expand replay at all demonstrates that MLB wants there to be fewer mistakes. They just see this as less important than wrapping games up in under 180 minutes. Both areas of concern are legitimate, and warranted, but to me they seem to be in the wrong order.

The goal should be to fix as much as you can on the field, and then you go from there. You set review time limits, and you enforce rules about pitcher pace and batter pace. Those rules already exist. People don’t enjoy a baseball game that’s longer than it needs to be, but people also don’t enjoy a baseball game decided in part by an erroneous call, and if we’re going to be realistic, how much time would a review really add? How much time should a review add? How much of that time is currently being taken up by on-field arguments and ejections? Limiting challenges doesn’t even necessarily eliminate arguments, since a manager could conceivably argue after he’s all out of challenge attempts.

We’ll see what the final proposal looks like, and we’ll see what MLB winds up implementing. Whatever it is will be an improvement from how things are today, at least to those in favor of there being more replay review. But the message right now is that getting calls right is less important than getting games finished, and it doesn’t make sense to make strategy out of wanting more calls to be correct. In time, this could look like a certain and necessary step forward. At this time, it looks like a step forward, taken backward.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


131 Responses to “Expanded Replay Probably Coming, Probably Flawed”

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  1. From USA Today:

    If a manager is successful with his replay challenge, he will not be charged with a review.

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    • Max says:

      Wouldn’t that fix the problem? My concern would be a manager wanting to review close and not-so-close plays for strategic reasons (to warm up a pitcher, because rain is threatening, because hey, the review officials just might go my way). Some limit on “wrong” reviews is probably necessary.

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    • Baltar says:

      That’s an improvement on the original description.
      I’m going to take a strange position: this proposal would be a good thing, but I halfway hope it doesn’t pass because of the utterly absurd before-and-after six innings clause.
      If a manager is allowed three reviews or failed reviews, what could possibly be the reasoning behind not letting him have those three reviews regardless of inning.
      Why does MLB make all these impossibly-complicated rules with no apparent reason.

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    • binqasim says:

      I think test Cricket has 2 challenges per team with same rule as above. I think this could be nice but hope does not delay the game too much.

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  2. David says:

    If the NFL has demonstrated one thing to be true about instant replay, it’s that allocated and limited challenges are a horrible idea. It’s just one more intricacy to keep track of. One more chance for a coach to screw things up. One more stupid strategy point (“That’s an awful call Bob, but do the Mets want to use their second challenge already here in the 3rd inning?”).

    The booth initiated review (think most college football, the NHL, the NFL inside of 2:00) is such a better plan. And the booth official is a terrific place to put older umpires out to pasture.

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  3. Bab says:

    This may seem like a minor point, but one problem with official replay reviews is that all the umps gather together and than lightly jog to whatever back alley the replay equipment is set up in. Half the review time is spent just getting to the review booth.

    To fix this, all umps need to wear Google Glass with direct feed from the game’s camera crew.

    Also, booth-initiated review will have an incremental but significant impact on analytics and play performance. Never again will Player X be denied a certain higher salary number because three of his game-winning hits were erroneously called foul.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      I haven’t gotten thru the rest of the posts but this is where I was going to go. If the umps are going to run off the field for every review like they do for HRs, then I’d rather not do it at all.

      Is there any good reason why they cannot all have hand-held devices (I assume the google glasses was said in jest) and see the replays in every angle right after the play ends? That way they can keep the calls on the field and not have to have calls made by some anonymous centralized authority.

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      • Bab says:

        I agree. Given that most MLB stadiums (if not all) already implement wireless access, it shouldn’t be that much more of an effort to equip umps with handheld technology.

        But there may be something to so say for all umps looking at the same screen for replays. So maybe home plate ump has an iPad?

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        • Westside guy says:

          MLB would probably auction off the rights to select the tablet – which would mean four umps standing around trying to figure out how to use the darn Surface RT…

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    • Mcneildon says:

      Aren’t all the plays being reviewed in MLB headquarters in New York?

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      • Bab says:

        For now, yes. But I doubt HQs retain that responsibility once the system is put in place (I could be wrong about that).

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    • BMac says:

      Why not put it on the jumbotron? I don’t see the need for secrecy and worry about embarrasment, since you are reviewing the darn call anyway.

      And, defintely improves the ballgame experience for the fans.

      I wonder if the owners have considered the revenue potential of all these replays and extra angles? Add it to Mlb.com package at a premium, it would pay for itself…

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      • Bab says:

        I like this, the only issue being clarity of the jumbotron picture. These replays more often than not need extremely clear resolution to make a good read.

        Also, begin toying with the idea of including little remotes in every seat so fans can vote on the jumbotron replay outcome. That would give true meaning to home field advantage.

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  4. Youppi! says:

    There has to be a penalty involved in challenging the umpires and them being vindicated. Trying to overturn an erroneous out remains an out; an HR that’s really a double is a double, etc. So what are they going to do? Add another out as the penalty if the umps are right? It’s not like football with timeouts. There has to be a cost for being wrong in challenging or it’s a farce.

    Three challenges in a game times two could be an additional 30 minutes at 5 minutes a challenge. You have to factor in the time for the old managers to crawl out of the dugout, talk to the ump, the ump to find the bat cave phone and call NY, NY to review and decide, and then convey that to the teams and sort out the players. Managers will have to use all three. Hopefully they don’t use Sprint to call NY.

    It should be one challenge. One challenge per game and a one out penalty. Maybe add one for extra innings. Enforce the pitching pace and stepping out of the box all the time. The game needs more Jordan Zimmermanns – get the ball and pitch it already.

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    • wally says:

      “There has to be a cost for being wrong in challenging or it’s a farce.”

      Why?

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      • LaLoosh says:

        yeah, the issue here is not having every review drag out for minutes. the technology is there now to be able to see these replays instantly.

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        • TerryMc says:

          Reliever not quite warmed up yet…call for a review.

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        • wally says:

          But then you lose your review on something stupid, which is a penalty in and of itself, and hopefully the review process is fast, so it doesn’t really help that much anyway.

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    • philkid3 says:

      You’re fixing a real problem the wrong way.

      You save time and avoid stupid challenges by thinking outside of the box to design the replay system around your game — not just copying others — and utilizing modern technology. Not by simply allowing the umps to get away with more wrong.

      We have tons of ways we could review things without the inefficient, time-wasting method you outline here. It’s not like we’re limited to CRTs, video tape, and cord phones.

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    • Bab says:

      That penalty would be called “eternal spite.”

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    • Colin says:

      There’s no reason it’d have to take five minutes to do a review. In the NHL or college football, it takes maybe a 30-60 seconds to confirm most every play that needs to be reviewed.

      I would say that if you’re the pitching team, and the manager challenges a play, if he wanted to change the pitcher he’d have to do it at the time of the challenge or not until after the subsequent plate appearance ends, so as to avoid time wasting issues.

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    • David K says:

      I’m just thinking about the following scenario:

      A pitcher is throwing a no-hitter with one out in the 6th inning, when a grounder is hit to SS. He throws to first, and the batter is ruled out, but the batting team challenges the play because they think the first baseman was pulled off the bag. Replays confirm he was on the bag, so the hitting team is penalized with an out, which ends the 6th inning.

      The pitcher goes on to complete the no-hitter, but with the help of that extra out. Does the no-hitter still count?

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  5. DJG says:

    “You set review time limits, and you enforce rules about pitcher pace and batter pace. Those rules already exist.”

    Amen. And I’d add a few other speed-the-game-along rules.

    Pitchers get an x count to throw or are charged a ball. Hitters can’t step out of batter’s box or are charged a strike. Every visit to the mound must result in a pitching change. No warm-up pitches from the mound (that’s what the bullpen is for).

    Players and managers would adjust, and what fan wouldn’t appreciate these? Other than the “baseball purists” everybody talks about that I have yet to actually meet.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Most of these sound fine. This: “No warm-up pitches from the mound (that’s what the bullpen is for)” I’m dubious about. I mean, doesn’t it matter to both pitcher and catcher that they have an opportunity to get used to one another before throwing and receiving in game action?

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  6. Jeremy B. says:

    “How much of that time is currently being taken up by on-field arguments and ejections?”

    This drives me crazy about baseball. In what other sport is it permissible (much less laudable) to run onto the field of play and scream at an official? If this happened in the NBA, the coach would immediately be ejected and suspended for multiple games, but in baseball, it’s somehow viewed as “sticking up for your player” when all it really does is waste everyone’s time.

    Regardless, I’m a fan of this proposal in general, though obviously the implementation will be critical. If your follow-up comment from USA Today is accurate, that’s a huge plus. I’ve never understood why the NFL penalizes correct challenges, thus forcing coaches to consider whether to “waste” a challenge on an obviously blown call. I much prefer the system in, of all sports, tennis (where players are permitted three incorrect challenges per set, but unlimited correct challenges).

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    • Baroque6 says:

      I think on-field arguments are THE stupidest thing about baseball. Watching the camera pan in on a manager and an umpire screaming at each other, and both of them gradually ramping up their body language/gestures while the announcer says, “oh boy, he’s gonna get heemself thrown out,” make me embarrassed to be such a big fan of the sport. It’s completely contrived and a huge waste of time, and should be reserved for lesser forms of entertainment.

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      • Dirck says:

        I agree . It seems to me that if the reviews are handled quickly ,it could both save time and spare us all the stupidity of the in-your-face argument ,throwing the manager or player out of the game and then having to sit through another 5 minutes of pointless screaming before he actually leaves the field .

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        • Dirck says:

          If they are going to allow the constant screaming at umpires ,shouldn’t they provide us with sound ? Some of it might actually be pretty funny .

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      • Jason B says:

        They should either eliminate them or make them full-on theatric performace, WWE-style. “HE JUST HIT HIM WITH A FOLDING CHAIR! DID YOU SEE THAT! BOBBY HEENAN WAS CLEARLY HOLDING ONTO HIS LEG!”

        I miss Bobby Heenan.

        (I love, love, love that he called people “Ham-and-eggers” as an insult that I never fully understood but totally loved, every time.)

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    • KDL says:

      In every other sport the official is already next to the coach at some point…so no running out on the filed is even necessary. Er…I mean, you’re right coaches arguing with officials doesn’t happen in any other sport. Baseball is the worst.

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      • Iron says:

        But does the game stop for this? No, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS… you name it, the official almost never turns around, never acknowledges any shouts from the sideline. Only in baseball do we get these 5-minute pointless ‘arguments’.

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    • Dave Cameron's Puppy says:

      Uh, NBA coaches do this from the sideline on EVERY SINGLE PLAY

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      • Jeremy B. says:

        NBA coaches gripe from the sideline while the game is still going on. That doesn’t make the game last longer because it doesn’t result in any stoppage of play. The problem with baseball isn’t that managers complain but that those complaints delay the game by several minutes when umpires pause the game to pretend to listen to the complaint.

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    • anhonestmess says:

      if a team successfully challenges two plays, they’re rewarded with a third, so they do the opposite of penalizing correct challenges…

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  7. TKDC says:

    The biggest problem will be obvious calls being challenged in the 6th inning because you don’t want to “waste” your reviews. It’s like the timeout in college basketball you can’t carry over, so you see coaches for teams that are absolutely cruising take a time out with 2 minutes left in the first half. It accomplishes jack shit other than slowing down the game. There needs to be a punishment, however small (say starting the next hitter 0-1 or 1-0) to keep this from happening.

    On the bright side, this will make the bottom of the sixth the perfect inning to go take a piss and stand in line for beer/hot dogs. You can take a 20 minute break and only miss half an inning.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Huh, you’re reading the proposal differently than me. I read it as: two challenges that can be used whenever, plus another challenge that can only be used in the 7th inning or later.

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      • Big Six says:

        The proposal reads in other reports as “two reviews for the first through sixth innings.”

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      • TKDC says:

        That’s not the plain meaning of the text provided. Further, without a penalty, there will be useless time-wasting reviews at some point in the game, either in the 6th, or in the 9th. Make the next hitter start with a strike or the pitcher start with a ball, and the manager will think twice before challenging something.

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  8. cass says:

    I hate instant replay, but I’m hoping this will be quick. If it prevents those truly abominable home run reviews where the umpires leave the field for 10 minutes and then come back and still get the call wrong, I will at least be happy about that. That’s the second worst feature of MLB and the worst feature of the National League.

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  9. Richie says:

    You’re all wet on one thing, Jeff. There IS! a 3rd group, we’re really the biggest and also entirely correct. Any replay which hardly slows down an already-a-bit-too-slow game is absolutely just fine.

    Just figure out the time aspect, and the great majority of we $$$-paying fans who see baseball not as a morality play but a la Cyndy Lauper – we just wanna have fun – will cheerfully go along with it.

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  10. Eminor3rd says:

    I don’t know why they don’t just put a fifth umpire in a booth on video. If the fifth umpire notices a call go the wrong way, he says so into the crew chief’s earpiece and then they overturn it on the field. If the next play happens so quickly that the fifth umpire doesn’t have time to make a definitive decision before the next play happens, then you just move on. The only delays this would ever cause would be the crew chief signalling that the call is overturned.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      yes I want some form of this OR have umps carry hand held devices to see the replays on the field. Having some anonymous centralized authority figure doling out game calls from some office in NYC isn’t the way I’d go.

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      • TKDC says:

        Why? And what makes the centralized authority figure anonymous? Reviews would be better across the board if the same authority figure is always ruling. Otherwise, you have 15 different interpretations of the standard to overturn a call. You see this in the NFL. It’s maddening.

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    • edgar4evar says:

      This is what should happen, but won’t since MLB doesn’t want to pay another ump for every single game. That’s fifteen more umps they have to pay full time, plus the cost of getting them a booth and the replay equipment. Probably only three million or so a season, but the cheapo owners would rather games go longer.

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      • Tim says:

        There’s already a booth and replay equipment: the official scorer is sitting in it. Fifth umpires could easily do the official scorer’s job as well and save a little money while they’re at it.

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        • LaLoosh says:

          ya know what? this is a solid idea. Take a ML official out of this. the official scorer is usually a retired baseball journalist who knows the rulebook. It’s a sort of ombudsman position if you will overseeing the umpire crew to make sure they don’t eff up. I like this idea.

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    • isavage30 says:

      I don’t get this criticism, isn’t this what they’re doing, except the “5th umpire” is a remote crew in NY?

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        No, because they are requiring formal challenges to be made by the managers, stopping play so the umpire crew can convene and reach out to the NY office, who then presumably has to stop what he or she is doing to bring up a play and review it, since it would be impossible for one or two people to keep up with 10 or so games at once. Having a 5th member of the crew gives you a chance to have the reviewer of the video watching the game in real time, thus drastically reducing the amount of time for the review process to yield change on the field.

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        • Anon21 says:

          I certainly hope they’re not dumb enough to only put one reviewer in the New York booth. They should have one reviewer per game, following along in real-time, so that they’re already looking at any particularly questionable calls before their assistance is even requested.

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        • TKDC says:

          I think the objection to having it be a centralized office is objecting for the sake of objecting. It’s senseless.

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    • BMac says:

      One small group of umpires could review every play in major league baseball from a single booth in New York.

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  11. Evan says:

    It’s hard to judge this proposal without knowing what steps MLB will implement to prevent teams from stalling after every close play while someone in the clubhouse watches replays so they can inform the manager whether to use a challenge or not.

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    • cass says:

      Teams don’t have access to video in the dugout.

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    • Steven says:

      Great point, the batter can just not step into the box or the pitcher can just not throw the ball. So how would an opposing team keep this from happening.

      Imagine the two following scenarios that would be similar to the hurry up offense in football to get a play off before a review:

      1) Runner A at 2nd 1 out. Runner A incorrectly called out at home on a single by Player B. Player B at 1st 2 outs. Batter is not getting in the box as he waits for his manager to decide whether or not to challeneg. Pitcher intentionally balks to “get a play off” before the challenge.

      2) Bases loaded, 1 out of a late tie game. Fly ball hit. Runner at 3rd tags and is incorrectly called safe, all runner advance. New runner at 3rd attempts to steal home while the opposing manager is deciding whether or not to challenge in order to “get a play off” before the cahllenge.

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      • Anon21 says:

        In 1), the pitcher can’t balk, because time was called at the end of the last play and the umpire won’t signal “play ball” until the batter is ready to receive a pitch.

        In 2), you’re running a high risk of an additional out for a chance that the opposing manager will challenge the play and the chance that the replay will support the opposing team. Even for the go-ahead run, that’s a bad play. Also, time has probably been called, as in 1).

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      • Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

        1) Is the game live if the batter isn’t in the box? A pitcher can’t really balk unless their foot is on the rubber, and they can’t take signs without their foot on the rubber. He could throw the ball to first from off the rubber, but wouldn’t that still be considered the same play?

        2) If the play was close enough to need a review, I don’t think the runner at 3rd would risk ending the inning if the call is upheld for being too close to call. Also, I think that’d still count as the same “play”. How would that be scored? Perhaps scoring games IS still god for something.

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    • TKDC says:

      Require challenges to be made immediately. Problem solved.

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  12. Matt says:

    Combine it with the manager coming out to argue with the ump. Every time he comes out, that counts as a challenge, and someone in NY will look at the review immediately and radio back to the crew chief. Then, by the time the manager hobbles over to the ump in question, they’ll probably have an answer, and we avoid that spectacle of arguing a call that never gets overturned. Also means a manager can’t argue a call if he doesn’t have a challenge remaining.

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  13. Anon says:

    As others have said, a bad challenge should have a penalty. I don’t like the direct impact penalties (strikes, outs, etc.). I think a fine for each bad challenge and a manager ejection for multiple bad challenges would work well. Also, have suspensions for managers who have X number of bad challenges in Y games.

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    • Why have challenges at all? Why can’t you just make it policy for umpires to automatically review anything perceived to be really close? No umpire wants to have his call on the field shown to be wrong, but that can be easily forgiven if the call is overturned. It looks a lot worse if the call is allowed to stand up. Stubborn, egotistical umpires would simply be dealt with. It shouldn’t be up to the managers to get the game called correctly.

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      • Agreed, can it really be so hard to hire extra umpires to just watch the broadcasts of the game and say yey or nay?

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      • wally says:

        No kidding. After watching Angel Hernandez and who ever was the 3rd base ump completely muck up another A’s game, we need something to be corrected. Letting obviously wrong calls stand just because is not “in the best interest of baseball.”

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  14. Big Six says:

    Another problem: I agree that they are prioritizing the pace of the game over the accuracy of the calls. But I postulate that this model of expanded replay will make the game even slower whereas always-watching booth replay would probably make the game faster in the end.

    Baseball review is not like football review. In football, a guy runs down the sideline. The refs have to watch the entire play. They have to see if he stepped out of bounds, where he stepped out of bounds, what time he stepped out of bounds. Every review play is fairly complex. Most reviewable plays in baseball are simple. Fair or foul. Safe or out. The complex calls, in turn, are the most rare, namely trap/catch. But for the most part, a home TV audience will know before the next pitch whether an ump gets the call right. Adding managers running on and off the field into the mix, and weighing their options, and stalling until someone in the video room can tell them whether to throw the flag is going to be a serious disruption on the flow of play, probably worse than we already see in on-field arguments. Unless it comes with rules to keep managers off the field, which I really doubt will happen, this supposed solution is actually working AGAINST the issue they are trying to avoid. It’s an organizational, logistical, bureaucratic failure.

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    • BMac says:

      Why do they only worry about the length of games when video replay is being discussed?

      Isn’t the length of games a problem whether or not video replay is added?

      To me, it’s a red herring to disguise the dislike of the dinosaurs to change.

      Address the length of games, for crying out loud! Not just when some change is proposed. And as others have mentioned, video replay can be much faster than managers embarrassing themselves on the field arguing calls (that they witnessed from the dugout). Video replay can defintely make the game faster.

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  15. MikeS says:

    The worst part?

    Angel Hernandez will conduct all replay reviews.

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  16. LaLoosh says:

    “People don’t enjoy a baseball game that’s longer than it needs to be..”

    really? according to whom? have you surveyed this?

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  17. BDF says:

    “The goal should be to fix as much as you can on the field, and then you go from there. You set review time limits.”

    These are not compatible. You write as though getting every call as absolutely correct as possible should be the goal of a replay system. The natural result of that would be reviewing every single play because, hey, you can’t be *sure*. There’s a balance to be struck. It’s perfectly reasonable to say that this proposal doesn’t strike the right balance, but you’re trying to play both sides, i.e., we have to get it all right but also set time limits. Those are incompatible.

    Replay in the NFL has, in my opinion, struck the wrong balance. Every touchdown and turnover gets reviewed even when there’s no reason to doubt the veracity of the call. This is ludicrous in my opinion and drives me insane when I’m watching a game. My opinion, and fear of replay, is that there’s a natural human instinct (as you show here) to want to fix as absolutely as much as possible. That’s not reasonable. The “it’s always been thus way/human umpire error is part of the game” instinct may not be reasonable either, but I’m resistant to replay not so much on the merits of any individual proposal but because I’m afraid that mission creep is inevitable. It would be even worse in baseball–a game of languorous rhythm–than in football, which is already staccato in its nature.

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    • jfree says:

      Totally agree. Football instant replays originated because the game is completely different. A TD very often occurs in a midst of a large group of people completely covering the scoring player (who only crosses a “virtual” line) – all of which obstructs the views of an ump. You can always have more cameras/angles than umps on the field so that sort of replay was intended from the start as merely an extra set of eyes. And unfortunately mission creep has affected replay in football – so we are now judging WR’s feet and whether a “completion” is now “in control”.

      The impetus for replay in baseball is not “to add a set of eyes”. Rather, it is to impugn real-time human judgement itself – and replace it with digitized slow-mo. In a sport that is the slowest paced of all major sports. And via a replay system that is apparently not even going to occur inside the ballpark. This is going to obliterate the game.

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  18. JuanPierreDoesSteroids says:

    Get ready for managers to delay the game for no reason other than to have their bullpen guys warm up. Just have every play reviewed from a 5th umpire in the booth!

    And while you’re at it, have that 5th umpire critique the home plate umpire’s strike zone during the game! No need to overturn a called ball/strike the moment it happens, but just have him tell him in the mic “hey, you might want to shave an inch off the bottom of your strike zone.”

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    • diderot says:

      This is exactly right. Do you think if Billy Marin were managing today he wouldn’t appeal every single play in order to throw Felix or Kershaw off their rhythms?

      You know what you get with unlimited delays?
      Mitch McConnell. That’ what you get.

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  19. Itseasy says:

    Rugby leagues already have video refs in place, where an official is off the field reviewing footage of critical plays as the game progresses. Why is implementing such a system so damn difficult? Just have a video umpire reviewing close plays and have them relay the information to the umps on the field. It really isn’t very time-consuming, as most fans watching from home know immediately whether an ump got a call right or wrong thanks to instant replay on television.

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  20. harpago17 says:

    I will say I enjoyed John Scherholtz’s quote:

    “Reviewable plays will cover 89 percent of those incorrect calls that were made in the past,”

    You think they went over every incorrect call for the past 20 years and calculated EXACTLY how many of them would have been covered by review?

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  21. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I’ve personally liked the challenge system in the NFL and I don’t think it is a bad idea here. I think it should have some different implementations, though:

    1. In the NFL, two correct challenges gets you a third challenge. MLB is slightly different, but I like the idea that MLB challenges are only taken away on an incorrect challenge, since adding additional challenges is less effective in the MLB (Especially if balls/strikes are replayable, though I don’t think this system lets them be?). Which, if I recall correctly, is more like Tennis than the NFL.

    2. It should just be 3 challenges the full 9 rather than this “2/6 1/7+) stuff.

    3. The NFL lets the coaches throw flags. I propose the MLB let managers throw baseballs lightly at Angel Hernandez.

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    • cass says:

      Can you name one reason this is better than just having a 5th umpire review every play in a booth and correct the calls without anyone else needing to do anything? If the goal is to get the calls right, then just get the calls right. This should reduce the amount of arguing and since a corrected call wouldn’t require much to happen on the field, the games probably wouldn’t be any longer at all.

      Challenges seem completely unnecessary to me.

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      • Ruki Motomiya says:

        You could argue it adds strategy to the game. Of course, a counter-argument could be that strategy should not be involved here. You could argue that it’d still take less time: I presume that a 5th umpire reviewing every play in the booth would still take a good amount of time, as you can’t start doing baseball things until the review is done, you have to do it on every play save stuff like pickoffs, and presumaby the 5th umpire needs to tell one of the others (via headpiece) of the descisions. Over the course of a 9+ inning game, even if every descision added only 2 minutes, you could easily be seeing 14-16 minutes per game added…and personally, having seen the NFL’s “Every Touchdown is Reviewed” rule, I suspect more time would be added on even if you say it would take half or a third as long as the NFL reviews.

        In short, I’m someone who is willing to sacrifice one or two right calls for a faster game and possibly some added strategy (And don’t slippery slope it, please: There is a difference between “one or two right calls” and, say, not wanting any right calls). I think this process would go faster and be more interesting, basically.

        Plus, who wouldn’t want to pelt the umpire with a baseball to challenge?

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  22. isavage30 says:

    What I’ve read elsewhere is the opposite of what I’ve read here, 1 in the first 6 innings and 2 after the 7th. I don’t see why that’s necessary either though, and that a simple 3 per game would be fine. If a manager asked for 3 reviews during a game and was wrong each time, and a 4th close call happened that was unreviewable, that would be weird.

    I think a challenge system would work fine, and that you could identify as many problems with a “booth-review” type system. Personally I’d rather see the managers be responsible for asking for reviews, rather than leaving it up to the umpires to decide when one is needed. I think the problem with that system is it would be hard for there to be a clear protocol about when the boot review occurs and the manager’s still going to be running out on the field, which is what they’re trying to prevent, basically subbing the manager asking politely for the challenge and the remote review happening for the time it would otherwise take for the manager to run out on the field and run back. As long as the manager has the power, he stays in the dugout and lets the process unfold. Most plays in baseball you can tell in a matter of seconds which call is correct when you see a single replay, so managers shouldn’t need to be frequently challenging things that the umpires got right the first time and running out of challenges.

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  23. Bab says:

    I’m a hyper-modernist baseball fan. This means:

    (1) digitally-monitored strike zones with automatic,instant, perfectly correct ball/strike calls;

    (2) the same device in (1) would also conduct ongoing hormone response levels for any batter in the batter’s box (but any readings the device makes while the batter is outside the batter’s box is null according to ‘safe haven’ protections bargained into the CBA by the union);

    (3) a digital assistant in the Houston dugout to remind Bo Porter when he might pass up a platoon advantage during a player substitution;

    (4) elimination of a human Commissioner of Baseball in favor of a decision-sciences fueled algorithmic intelligence, with continuous direct data feed from all conceivable global data sources, endlessly working on the eternal refinement of the ultimate equation prospectively entitled “The Best Interests of Baseball.”

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  24. jfree says:

    Why should these calls be reviewed by a bunch of expensive hidden know-it-alls in NYC? It would be FAR cheaper to have the calls be reviewed by an outsourcing center in Mumbai – with far less chance of being questioned for any possible home town bias.

    And if “time of review” is a concern — then one could easily set up 20 or 30 different instant replay review teams – from Mumbai to Nairobi to La Paz – and have them compete to make their review the fastest (perhaps a commission based pay system). All of these combined would be cheaper than one replay review group in NYC. And MLB could simultaneously enhance their international outreach program by televising these review teams in operation. US fans could encourage their preferred “sister city” review teams to review the play faster. Foreign fans could learn the rules and learn to jeer the umps – and would quickly learn to love baseball.

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  25. aaronboock says:

    How about a seasonal max? 162 challenges, use at your leisure.

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  26. Rippers says:

    Somewhere, Armando Galarraga is like – where was this 3 years ago?

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  27. Slats says:

    There will be no challenge flag. Managers will, in fact, kick dirt on the umpire to initiate the review process.

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  28. JS7 says:

    This whole “challenge” idea is garbage. Why should the onus to make sure the correct play is called be on the respective managers? The umps are paid to make these calls, so let them do it. Put an extra ump with video monitor in the stands (or in a dugout) at every game. Ump in stands has a little buzzer that he can trigger that vibrates in home plate ump’s pocket, or some such system, even phone texting, why not? to advise home plate ump that play is under review. Ump in stands makes call, and then calls or texts it to home plate ump. It’s not all that complicated.

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    • RJackson says:

      I like this a lot. It is a good control to address the cause of these issues in the first place-no accountability on the umpires. If we are going to address the symptoms, at least they can be controlled in a manner such as this.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      I like this but would also like to see the umps get tased by the same buzzer if they are proven to have blown the call.

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    • jfree says:

      I think fans should be allowed to initiate the reviews. Especially for ball-strike calls

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  29. James says:

    Those of you that think this will slow down the game, take a stop watch to the time managers as they come onto the field to argue.

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    • pft says:

      Just add another umpire who watches the game on TV and he can communicate with the chief on the field via cell phone when a call is obviously wrong. No delays. Umpires get more guys in the union, and a day in the booth every 5 games.

      Torre should stick to managing. Very sad they could not find such an obvious solution. Sometimes the biggest play of a game happens in the early innings, and if a manager uses his challenges early, or doesn’t use it for fear of needing it later, we have to let a bad call stand despite having the ability to reverse it. Dumb. Bud is getting senile or something.

      Also, how much control does the home team, many of whom own the station covering the game, have over what the umps can see on review. I have noticed NESN not showing certain angles on replays to the fans on plays/calls going the Red Sox way, and the announcers trying to influence a HR review (must assume the umps have the audio?).

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      • Ruki Motomiya says:

        Umpires get more guys paid, which the MLB wouldn’t want. What do you do about the calls that AREN’T obviously wrong? Does he just not phone the guy? Does he overturn it based on his opinion, possibly reversing a correct call? What about the fact it takes time to call someone and answer a cell phone? Especially if he is watching it on TV, where they will take moments to show a replay. If the pitcher throws a ball in the time it takes for this process to occur, do you reverse that to reverse the play? Do you reverse the play anyway, despite the fact the pitcher may have been pitching to a totally different scenario? Do you call time after every questionable call and wait?

        There are a lot more problems with this idea than let on here.

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  30. Breadbaker says:

    So what am I missing here? Are we simply going to have no indications from umpires ever again, and runners advance at their own risk? Say the call is a trap and the replay shows it was a catch. What happens to the runners who advanced? Do it the opposite way? What happens to the runners who didn’t advance? In football, basically only one thing counts for replays: who has the ball and what happens to him and it. Baseball is all over the place.

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  31. LaLoosh says:

    much better than usual comments in here. this topic has brought out the best of the best for some reason.

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  32. ceelanks says:

    Two things: 1. How well this replay system works depends on the NYC review center. If they have an answer quickly (overturning only if it is very obvious from the first or second look), the system may work great. But if it’s the three-minute delay as in NFL, what a drag it will be.
    2. Bad calls currently have delays too. Managers come out to argue and waste time, trying to influence the next call.
    (Thinking about the Galarraga blown perfect game call, a review couldn’t recapture the euphoria of the 27th out.)

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  33. HenduforKutch says:

    To expand on Breadbaker’s point, I don’t like replay for any call that has a domino effect.

    For example, you’ve got men on 1st and 2nd and the batter hits a sining line drive to the OF. A catch is ruled and the batter is signaled out. No runners advance. Upon replay, it’s ruled a trap. Then what?

    The umpires are now put in the position to play the game in their heads to decide what probably would have happened if the ruling had been made correctly? So, the guy on 2nd is fast, we’ll give him home. The guy on 1st is slow, so we’ll only give him 2nd. Or do we go whiffleball rules and all runners just advance one base?

    I hate the idea of umpires guessing what would have happened if they’d made the call right.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      there’s going to have to be an award bases provision written into the rules. it’s going to get hairy without a doubt.

      they really need to think this through carefully.

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    • TKDC says:

      That is true, but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

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