The case for instant replay

Christian & Gardner > Ortiz & Manny
Setting the golden thong record straight

Is there anything worse than watching a Yankee game where the team looks terrible, they’re losing badly and Joe Morgan is one of the announcers? I had trouble refraining from chucking my remote control through the TV as Morgan spouted out wrong information and general inanities for nine innings.

The stupidity reached a high point though during the disastrous top of the fourth. When Carlos Delgado lined a foul ball/home run down the left field line and the umpires overruled a call that was probably correct in the first place, Joe Morgan said that the disputed nature of the call and the unclear conclusion offered by the instant replay was exactly why instant replay shouldn’t be instituted in baseball. And that, folks, is Emmy-award winning baseball coverage from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

In fact, Delgado’s home run was exactly why baseball needs instant replay. I’ve written passingly about instant replay in the distant (blogging) past. Basically, MLB should institute a form of instant replay review like the NFL. It’s not too hard to figure out how, and with even the umpires admitting they erred, it would be really easy to fix this problem.

Here’s my proposal: Instant replay should be available for plays that could lend themselves to controversy. That includes tag plays, home run calls and runners tagging up on fly balls. Instant replay review can be initiated by each team, say, once or twice during a game, and the umpires can choose to consult the video as well if they can’t agree on a call. Much like in the NFL, the ruling on the field should be the default, and it should be overturned only if video evidence is conclusive enough to warrant it.

In tonight’s game, then, since, as Morgan noted, video evidence wasn’t obvious, then the call stands as a home run. That was probably the right call anyway.

Through this system, you won’t see managers challenging balls and strikes calls, and I’m happy to leave force plays up to the umpires. Tags and foul ball/home run calls are wrong way more often than force plays at a base.

The technology exists to perfect these calls, and there’s no reason for MLB to delay implementing instant replay. We’ve seen far too many bad calls in very prominent situations. Shouldn’t getting it right trump any sense of tradition? We have QuesTec; why not instant replay?

Anyway, I’m not going to harp on the game too much. The Yanks are a mess, and hopefully, A-Rod‘s return and a three-game set against the Orioles can spark something of a resurgence. It’s still early, and the Yanks just have more talent than a last-place, 20-24 team. I know things will get better. They can’t get much worse.

Christian & Gardner > Ortiz & Manny
Setting the golden thong record straight
  • mustang

    The only word I have after setting there in the cold for over 2 hours is
    PATHETIC.

  • Joseph C.

    For some strange reason, I’m not worried about this team. Don’t know why, it’s just that time and time again, they seem to pull it together, and simultaneously prove the pessimists and detractors wrong. I’ve always been a glass half-full guy when it comes to the Yankees (a rarity ’round these parts), so that’s probably it. If this team can even remotely get their shit together by the break, I think they’ll have a wicked 2nd half.

    Call me crazy.

    • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

      Welcome to my corner, we now have more Yankees fans in this corner than NFL teams in Perfectville (18-1 Bitches).

    • mustang

      I will give to you if you’re right.
      Maybe it’s because I just came back from the game, but I’m really down on this team right now.

    • matt

      And then fade in the playoffs. Don’t forget that part.

  • http://www.thebronxstop.com The Bronx Stop

    it certainly cannot get any worse…

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Oh, it can get much, much worse.

      • TurnTwo

        and i can see it getting much worse before it gets much better.

  • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

    I agree with your proposal except for the ability of manager’s having the right to call for a review. I feel it should be directly up to the umpires as they consult each other and decide that they can not come to a concrete conclusion about plays you have described. The reason I feel manager’s should be left out of the decision is that they can use this for ulterior actions such as giving a bullpen extra time to warm up or allowing a pitcher on the mound to take a breather.

    Trust me, the critics of the instant replay would lay into that part of the rule and bring unnecessary criticism and just give it an overall bad perception. It should be left up to the umpires. The managers can come out and argue for a replay like they do now when they ask the umps to convene and get it right but they should not have the power themselves to call for a replay.

    • Whitey14

      I think the number of times a manager would risk asking for replay when it wasn’t really needed would be minimal. It’s the same reason most NFL coaches use it sparingly. You cannot afford to get down to clutch time in a game and not have it available. Then again, the number of times that the situations (replay/pitching changes) would come into play at the same time would also be minimal. I think mathematically the risk is worth taking.

      Could they go back retroactively and look at games 1 + 2 of the 99 ALCS, since the umpires had to apologize to the Red Sox after both games for blowing crucial calls? The 3-0 lead they may have had after they blitzed clemens in game 3 would have been nice ;-)

      • A.D.

        But the NFL discourages the replay use by the loss of a timeout, something baseball can’t do

  • stuart

    thanks for the blog. a reasonable analysis of the yanks. the other blogs are to hysterical.. yankee fans whom I am one of them are as stupid as all fans..

    man the hysteria and stupidity is staggering.

    I really like this blog especially the info on the minor league guys since I can never ee those guys play .

    any chance of a ensberg cut a move down of a relief guy when arod comes back and a gardner sighting?/ probably to early for gardner would that be to much of a panic???

  • mustang

    This is what they have until they see the Mets again if they can’t be 5 games over .500 then this team needs to go in another direction.

    35 games vs.
    Balt,Sea,@Balt,@Min,Tor,KC,@Hou,SD,@Pitt

    • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

      I’d say 21-22 wins through that stretch.

  • RollingWave

    pathetic beyond all comprehension.

    Wang’s pitches were up a little. but he was probably the best facid of this game for the Yankee side, just a demonstration of how bad the defense / hitting was this game… AGAIN

  • Steve

    Instant replay is the answer if you want to take 4 hour games and make them 4 hours and 15 minutes long. For a game thats often criticized for being too slow and has trouble attracting young fans because of its pace, slowing things down further is exactly the opposite of what they need.

    It will also serve to dampen the few moments of pure joy the casual fan has now. Instead of cheering wildly with abandon, fans will cheer, stop cheering, wait, wait some more, and then go “meh” and sit down again one way or the other.

    Awful idea. The only way it makes sense is if it takes LESS time than an umpires conference. Or if it is counterbalanced by some of long sought and never implemented measures (not allowing batters to step out, calling balls on pitcher who work too slowly) to speed up the game.

    • TurnTwo

      in the time it took to have the umps make the original call right, have the yankees complain, gather together and overturn it to make the wrong call, then have mets bench complain, willie comes out to argue, goes backin the dugout, then the mets coaches start at it from the dugout, the ump throws out a mets coach, and the game finally continues, with the wrong call still made, you could have just had the umps get together, watch 2 replays over 10 seconds, make the call and get it right, and play out the rest iof the inning.

      this whole “makes a long game longer and more boring” argument holds no water with me. id rather a game be 2-3 minutes longer to get

    • TurnTwo

      in the time it took to have the umps make the original call right, have the yankees complain, gather together and overturn it to make the wrong call, then have mets bench complain, willie comes out to argue, goes backin the dugout, then the mets coaches start at it from the dugout, the ump throws out a mets coach, and the game finally continues, with the wrong call still made, you could have just had the umps get together, watch 2 replays over 10 seconds, make the call and get it right, and play out the rest iof the inning.

      this whole “makes a long game longer and more boring” argument holds no water with me. id rather a game be 2-3 minutes longer to get a call right, than watch what happened to the mets last night and hope it doesnt happen to the yankees in a playoff push in sept and cost a game.

      • Marsha

        Bad calls are part of the game, just another thing that makes baseball great. And I’m sure in the long run they balance out. And what’s more fun–seeing an instant replay or the scene described above? I vote for the latter.

        • TurnTwo

          so its more fun to watch the umpires blow a call? i dont get it, at all.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      This is a straw man argument. Games just aren’t 4 hours long, and a two-minute review session where they actually get the call right won’t do much to slow down the pace of games.

      And it’ lessens the cheering? I didn’t realize that fan enthusiasm was more important than actually getting the outcome right.

  • JerseyKRS

    My best friend and I have been complaining about Joe Morgan for years. The man can’t get through a game without reminding everyone of how he was a middle infielder for the greatest world series team ever.

    STFU Joe Morgan, please.

    The yankees? ugh. Been living off those home run prayers for a few years now, it’s horrible baseball.

  • http://riveraveblues.com JimT

    The problem with Joe Morgan is that he is totaly unprepared. He works one game a week and just floats in without any preperation or insights. Unless the player is a big star like Arod he doesn’t know who is hurt, who is hot, who is cold. If a team has just made a call up of a young player he has no clue who that player is. As a result he is left with nothing but stating the obvious and tired old cliches. Jon Miller works the S.F. Giants games during the week and still is much more prepared than Morgan who has all week to get ready. It really is time for ESPN to move on.

    I agree with Ben, Delgado’s home run is exactly the type of call instant replay is need. All MLB needs is a guy in a replay booth communicating with the crew chief. Avoid overturning judgement calls, but in cases where its simply a matter of vision / perspective take the umpires’ ego out of play. The technology is there, it is stupid not to use it.

    • TurnTwo

      to me it’s easy… i’d even leave out the ‘tag’ plays.

      what qualifies for instant replay? home runs, yes or no, and fair or foul.

      4 umps on the field make the call, and if they feel they need further consult, make a call to an ump supervisor in the booth who has instant access to TV replays, who can confirm or overturn the call. whole thing would take less than 2 minutes, and you ensure the right call is made.

    • JonahS

      It’s not that Morgan is unprepared, it’s that he is a moron. He could spend all week preparing, watching tape, memorizing stats, interviewing everyone from both teams, and learning everything he possibly could and it still wouldn’t change the fact that he is just a babbling idiot who makes people bleed from their ears.

      I have had enough of his ridiculous statements (you have to look at both Randolph and Girardi through the same microscope…forgetting the fact that they are in two totally different situations), making absolutely no sense (his whole opening monologue), and his unabashed kissing of middle infielders asses (admiring Cano’s leaping throw, but completely disregarding Giambi’s scoop at first, even going as far as arguing with Miller about it…also the whole thing about how its not fair that outfielders have bigger gloves). I have relegated myself to watching the ESPN Sunday night games on mute, or not at all.

  • RichYF

    My good friend and I got into a heated argument about this. It went on for at least 2-3 hours and really didn’t have a good ending.

    I am all for replay. Everyone else has done it. He is against it stating the baseball is “pure” and that games would take too long. He specifically stated how dumb football is with the “call to the booth” or whatever. I agree, football has done a horrible job in that sense.

    Hockey, on the other hand, has done it right. All goals are reviewed (if I’m not mistaken) and the coaches have no say. There’s a guy upstairs or a group of people upstairs that do all of the work. They make a call down to the guys on the ice and that’s it.

    I understand the logic that baseball is one of the only sports that has remained unchanged throughout the years, but I’m afraid I don’t agree anymore. With television and marketing and grounds crews and steroids and the media, the game just isn’t what it once was. I see no reason not to remove human error from a game. Now, a game like last night, which I didn’t see, I have no problem with that. If we’re talking playoffs, however, I think replay has to be considered. Over the course of 162 games, things even out. But a small sample size of 7 games, there’s no room for mistakes.

    “If the umps are the only reason you’re going to win or lose, then you don’t deserve to win.” This is true, but at the same time, there are some series that are just dead even and a bad call can blow it. Jeter’s “homerun” vs. the Orioles is one example.

    MLB doesn’t have to use the same mold that is already in existence by football, basketball, or even hockey. It is a different game, so it should have different rules for replay which suit it best.

    • http://www.magicball.net Double-J

      Hockey, on the other hand, has done it right. All goals are reviewed (if I’m not mistaken) and the coaches have no say. There’s a guy upstairs or a group of people upstairs that do all of the work. They make a call down to the guys on the ice and that’s it.

      Hockey still manages to blow it, and no, not all goals are reviewed, only ones that the referees deem “reviewable” (which is arbitrary in itself). Did you see the worlds recently where the USA lost on a goal that went into the side of the net (i.e. not actually into the net, but through the side)? It went to video review, and still the judges ruled it a goal, even though someone who reads with braille could have discerned that it went through the side of the net. And the NHL still has issues with reviews, even after they butchered the 1999 Stanley Cup finals (No Goal!).

      I’d hope baseball, if they do implement it, could do a better job than hockey, at least in my humble opinion. I think it’s a real difficult question for baseball, because you don’t want it to be too encompassing so that every ball/strike is reviewed, but you want to make it so that things like homerun calls are accurate. I don’t see why you couldn’t make some things universally reviewable every single time they occur (i.e. homeruns, players leaving early). Other things – such as balls/strikes or outfield dives where the ball hits the ground first – could be reviewed on a play-by-play basis. But again, it’s difficult to figure out how you can use it. If you institute an NFL-style challenge system, I wonder if the penalty for a challenge be an out?

      Go Yankees! (Seriously, I can’t live with all these crappy Mets/Sox fans around my area).

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    I dunno, I’m old school and I enjoy the human element of the game. Even though it can be frustrating, I enjoy different umps having different strike zones and stuff, it adds to the uniqueness of the the game.

    • TurnTwo

      but instant replay wont effect an umpire’s strike zone.

      in fact, if the institution of QuesTec didnt radically alter and institute a new standardized and universal K zone, what will?

  • zack

    I’m with Mike A. on this one. It’s got nothing to do with length of game. Its got to do with the game itself, its utter fallibility and inconsistency. The umps, like it or not, are simply PART of the game. 90% of the time they are right, and that other 10% of the time is built into the game. Sure, they might get a call wrong and it offers an easy bitching point for players and fans, but its still the players’ fault for losing, and thats been the case from the start.

    QuesTec is hardly a good supporting argument either, because that is a disaster. All it has done is make the umpires more paranoid and shrunk the strike zone way down, causing further aggravation among fans than less.

    The only time any call like that really has seemed to impact the game is fans touching a ball and turning it into a HR, Bartman and Maier. And that would be much more easily solved by pushing the fans a bit further back…

    • TurnTwo

      i think this actually helps the argument for instant replay, though.

      people argue that it will make already long and boring games that much longer and more boring. but, if you really think about how often it would be used, which in this care is really not often at all, what’s the issue with having the technology to ensure a proper call if you need to turn to it?

  • matt

    In tonight’s game, then, since, as Morgan noted, video evidence wasn’t obvious, then the call stands as a home run. That was probably the right call anyway.

    The video evidence was obvious, and the call was right to begin with, no probably about it. I’m for instant replay on this type of call, but if this video wasn’t conclusive to you then I’m not sure what would be.

  • Bob R.

    I appreciate the arguments for instant replay but remain opposed. My reasoning is that it is a game. Adding technology to get it right makes it too serious for me, as if in the long run it really matters if they get it right or not. I would like to see the umpires better trained, and I think it a good idea to have umpires confer more if the call is questionable. But I still prefer them to rely on their admittedly flawed judgment.

    I especially would not like to see tag plays included in the review. There is an awful lot in baseball that are essentially “neighborhood” plays, as the tag of second base on the DP or the quick foot off the bag on throws to first. The tag is often similar, where a good throw and quick sweep is often an out call even if technically the tag is missed. Only when it is obviously no tag is the safe call made, and I think that tradition has developed logically out of the nature of the game-partly at least to protect player’s health.

    I think once the system of video review is implemented, there will be pressure to increase its use to things such as checked swings, fair/foul calls over the corner bags, balks and much more.

    One more point. The premise for wanting video review is that individual calls are so important in some cases they can swing a game’s result. I disagree. The fact is, some calls are more dramatic because some immediate result is seen, but in reality no one call is really more important than another. In a challenged home run call, for example, it may seem that is the crucial call, but it may well have been the ball 3 call on a close pitch that swung things. Denkinger’s infamous safe call in the world series is blamed for the Card’s loss, but it is not necessarily true. He made dozens, perhaps 100s of decisions that day, and who knows but that some debateable ones that favored the Cards were equally significant.

  • Marsha

    I’m with Mike A. and Zach (see my comment above in reply to TurnTwo.

  • Chris

    This team is pathetic to watch, i have about 15% confidence that we see any life outta this team any time soon, they gotta score more than 2 runs a game

  • Bryan

    Then to listen to those 2 idiots talk about why there was such a distance between the pole and the foul line as seen from that camera in the seats!!
    “That was WAY fair, how many other stadiums are like that, hope they fix that in new Yankee Satdium”

    Idiots, it’s called perspective!!!! I got to listen to Morgan everytime I play my son on the WII too, ugh!!!

    PS: Excellent argument for Instant Replay.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    i’ve been a big proponent of video review in MLB for as long as i can remember. the RIGHT CALL is paramount to everything else.

    every other major US sport has it. baseball is always the slowest to change. the owners will have to be kicked in the face to do it. sadly, it will take something like a huge, blown call in Game 7 of the WS to make owners/GMs see the light.

    it MIGHT add 5 extra minutes to a game. big deal. and that’s not counting the time that managers/players arguing calls is detracted from games.

    again, the RIGHT CALL is paramount.

    • RichYF

      I agree here, but I see both sides of the argument at this point. There has to be some way for MLB to use technology to its advantage. Unfortunately my argument was not well researched at the time, but the fact that other sports are doing it (even if they don’t do it right every time) should open some eyes. Football games might take longer, but it’s good to see the right call being made whether it be on a touchdown, a first down, or a catch.

      I don’t know how much I agree with QuesTec, but I do not believe it is reasonable to just assume 10% of the calls will be inaccurate when everyone viewing the game at home can see what the RIGHT call is. If we can see it, or at least determine it, why is it just acceptable for it to be incorrect? What about the umpires that make mistakes? “I made a mistake.” That’s it. Maybe it gets discussed when his contract is up, but that happens behind closed doors.

      Who is responsible for these blown calls? Like I said, over the course of 162 games things tend to even themselves out. But in a 7 game series, regardless of the outcome, the right call should be made. Whether it be an out in the top of the first or a homerun in the bottom of the eighth, there is no reason not to get it right. ESPECIALLY if it is well within the capabilities of all parties involved. Just my .02

  • RustyJohn

    My favorite Morgan “analysis” on instant replay last night was his babbling the following (or something similar to this):

    “See, I don’t know if instant replay does you any good because you can’t review ALL the plays. So instant replay wouldn’t do any good.”

    Yes, Joe, if instant replay were instituted ALL plays would be reviewed- just like in football- I remember watching a game and EVERY play was reviewed- it was a 17 1/2 hour game.

    Does this guy watch any sport, period? Did his mind just not flicker and think, “In other sports, they limit the type of plays that can be reviewed.”?

    That being said, I am anti-instant replay. I like baseball as imperfect as it is- it is like life, sometimes The Man screws up and sticks it to us and we just have to deal with it.

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