Reining in Replay

Reining in Replay

The Cubs did indeed win the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first in this weekend series.  But it sure took a long time, with at least part of the reason being the lengthy replay reviews initiated on a couple of close plays.  Actually it wasn’t a couple.  It was four.  You can watch them here, and this one in particular took FOREVER.

Altogether, the review videos took up about 15 minutes of footage and that is 15 minutes in addition to the normal delays with pitching changes, gamesmanship, and whatever else they can think of to “slow the game down.”  There is a bit of a catch-22 here as you always want to ensure that the call is made correctly, yet you don’t want to disrupt the flow of the game too much, which was part of the concern with replay.  In particular, the two lengthiest replays had to do with plays at the plate which may have brought into question the new interpretation of the catcher-blocking-the-plate rule, as the tags/non-tags eventually (!) became obvious, but they probably had to confer with the video folks in New York to ensure that the rule was applied correctly given the crazy situation that happened to the Marlins the other night.

Lengthy replays definitely disrupt the flow of the game, they take fans out of the game, they suck the energy out of the stadium, and you have to wonder if it’s really worth the hassle with the headsets and the talking and the standing around.  The manager moonwalk to figure out whether or not to challenge is also an unnecessary delay.  The video guy should tell you immediately whether or not to challenge, they have to be on top of it.  If the call takes more than 60 seconds, it should be ruled “inconclusive” and the call on the field should stand, move on.  I talked about this in April if you’re interested in reading what I wrote then.  I also recently explored the possibility of reducing wasted time in baseball games to keep fans interested, and as Yakyu says below, lengthy replays don’t help at all:




I don’t necessarily agree that we should simply accept imperfection, but I do believe there should be a way to improve the way replay is implemented.  This year was the first in the new system, so they’ll have plenty of time to work out the kinks in the offseason.  I think I would just recommend eliminating the manager moonwalk, implementing the “booth challenge” rather than having the umpires or managers do it, and enforcing a strict review clock after which inconclusive plays are declared and the ruling on the field stands.  I love baseball, but the game has to have a reasonable pace, and these lengthy replays are a killer.

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  • I mentioned here before the "lawyers on the field" and it has become worse.

    There was the discourse between Len and JD in Sunday's game, where the replay indicated to them that the Cubs making an out at 1st was going to be overturned, then the replay took and interminable time, and the call was not. Sometime during that sequence, the discussion turned to "there are active umps in NY, and while it may look one way to us, it may not be conclusive enough for an experienced up to overturn another." If that's not playing lawyer, I don't know what is.

    Last night there was the discourse about the Dodger runner beating the throw but missing the bag and being called out, and why Mattingly challenged that, when he didn't challenge Puig being thrown out at first, which was a closer play. JD eventually came to the conclusion I did that at the plate it actually affects the score.

    My understanding is that the NFL has a 90 second rule on the ref having his head under the curtain. I'm also not sure why there is a curtain.

    On the catcher blocking the plate rule, there was the debate last night over whether that includes the pitcher blocking the plate on a wild pitch. In a game involving another team, there was a debate whether the rule was violated if the catcher had the ball down the third base line.

    If they want to be exact, my proposal is still out there to have QuesTec call the balls and strikes, and put sensors in the ball, mitts, and bases to determine within microseconds, whether the runner was tagged or hit the base before the ball hit the glove. They use stuff like that to see who wins the Marathon and NASCAR.

  • In reply to jack:

    Not the bag, the plate.

  • In reply to jack:

    The umpires union is probably as strong as the players union so those ideas (while excellent, mind you) would have to go through a lot of challenges (irony!) before they could be implemented.

  • In reply to Rice Cube:

    On the umps union, not since the Ken Kaiser time when, instead of going on strike, they resigned, and, except for one who was retiring, MLB accepted all their resignations and got new umps. Of course, the union is not going to agree to eliminating all those jobs.

    By the same token, I don't think the fans want to see the game played all by robots, although maybe that was contemplated in Futurama.

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    The CUBS continue to lead all of MLB with the most replay calls, 37. Of those calls, 17 of them have been overturned. To date, 850 calls have been reviewed by all MLB teams with 404 of those being overturned -- that's about 47 percent.

  • In reply to Chris Frye:

    If you are trying to make Renteria into baseball's Lovie Smith, that isn't necessarily the case, as the baseball manager can wait for the signal from the bench, and there is a mixture of challenges and "requests to the umps."

    Also, I don't know if you are differentiating replays like the one I described above, where it was to the Cubs' advantage that the call was not overturned.

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