MLB to test out expanded instant replay system in Yankee Stadium this season

The RAB Radio Show: August 17th, 2012
Update: Teixeira out of tonight's lineup with sore left wrist
With instant replay, we wouldn’t have this.

Baseball implemented a new playoff system this year, and now we might be closing in on a new instant replay system as well. Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal report that MLB will test out a new radar and camera-based replay system in Yankee Stadium and CitiField starting next week. It’s the same Hawk-Eye Innovations system used for boundary calls in tennis and would be used for fair-or-foul calls only.

“We continue to investigate it,” said Joe Torre, MLB’s VP of Baseball Ops. “I don’t think we’re at the point now where we want to do that, increase replay more than we have. Unless we’re confident that it’s going to be something that will work without any hiccups, we’re not planning to [officially implement] anything right now.”

The results of the test run this year will not be made public or anything, they’re just going to internally test the system. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for expanded replay, and if this new system passes the test in the coming weeks, it could be officially implemented around the league next season. That, obviously, is a very good thing. The human element is the players, not the umpires.

There’s still a lot of opposition to expanding instant replay — especially for ball-and-strike calls as well as bang-bang plays on the bases — but this new testing system is a positive step forward. Even if the Hawk-Eye system flops and is impractical, at least we know that the league is making an attempt to move forward. Automated ball-and-strike calls are a long, long way off, but getting fair-or-foul calls right is progress.

The RAB Radio Show: August 17th, 2012
Update: Teixeira out of tonight's lineup with sore left wrist
  • Ed

    Bang-bang calls at the bases seem the most obvious thing to use replay for, especially now that we have HD cameras everywhere. I get not using it in the pre-HD days when the replay often wasn’t conclusive, but it seems so easy now. The play is almost always over when the event in question happens, so it’s easy to get the outcome right.

    I’m still worried about fair/foul calls though. The ump calls foul and everyone usually stops running immediately. We’d have to guess where the runners would have ended up if the play was fair. Do we have the players play out foul balls just in case the replay rules it fair? We’d get a lot of exhausted players then. I don’t think having the umpires guess how the play would have turned out is better than actually playing things out based on the wrong call.

    • Manimal

      I agree, NFL replays every single touchdown now, why wouldn’t MLB review every single close play at home? Makes no sense. A scoring play can change the outcome of the game, video replay is the only way to ensure that the correct call is made every time.

  • Manimal


  • Eddard

    What about when the ump calls the ball foul by raising his arms, the leftfielder gives up on the ball and then the ump changes his mind and points fair ball? To add insult to injury, not a damn thing happens to the ump that blew the call and the manger gets tossed from the ballgame. What will fix that?

    • Big Members Only (formerly RI$P FTW)

      It had no effect on the game, bro. Girardi made an ass of himself.

    • CUYanks

      MLB is investigating the potential expansion of “Firing Tim Welke” in Yankee Stadium and Citi Field later this year.

  • Jensen

    I hope automated ball and strike calls never come at all. The umps are just as much a part of the game as the players. Fair/foul cameras would be nice, but I’d be happy never to have even that if it opened Pandora’s box for a replay system that encroaches ever further on the umps each year it’s around.

    • Eddard

      Fair/foul would be fine. The umps could still make the calls and then they could check the close ones on replay. It’d be much better to get it right. I don’t think we’ll ever see automated ball/strikes in our lifetimes. That would completely remove an element of the game.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      (Obviously an umpire at some level)

      Seriously, it’s pretty amazing how frequently video replay shows that the ump was correct. Most of them do an exceptional job and don’t make themselves part of the show, they just do their job and do it well. It’s the ones that don’t do it well that are the problem. If they were disciplined &/or removed as necessary, I’d be fine with limiting the use of instant replay. Until that happens, I’m all for it.

      • jjyank

        Agreed completely. I have no problems with allowing umps to continue to call balls and strikes, so long as they do it well. There needs to be some type of enforcement mechanism for guys that are terrible, though.

        Maybe using a K zone to evaluate an umpire’s performance, and if they grade badly on a consistant basis, they get canned.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          Yes. Perhaps after each season, every ump is evaluated and appriopriate action is taken. Kinda like in the real world, where you get a yearly review of your performance.

          • jjyank

            Makes sense to me. There’s got to be some consequences if you are bad at your job.

    • MattG

      See, I totally disagree with this. The combined ball/strike calls have far more to do with the outcome of the game than all the other calls combined. 98% of baseball calls are easy…except behind the plate. There, it’s what, 60%?

      While its true that umpires to get this right 82-90% of the time (it’s been studied), this is the single greatest aspect of the game over which umpires have control. If you care about the integrity of the game, this is the first thing that should change.

  • YanksFanInBeantown

    Robot Umpires calling balls and strikes doesn’t sound very appealing to me. At the end of the day, it’s still about people. Baseball will be a lot less unique and interesting if they iron out all of its quirks.

  • Pat D

    Did somebody remind Girardi after the game that those weren’t the dance moves to YMCA?

    • Kramerica Industries

      Joe looked like something straight out of WWE.

  • hogsmog

    I don’t really mind ball/strike being left up to the umpire; pitch framing and plate-edge pushing are skills that don’t hurt the game as long as the ump is consistent. The very rulebook definition of strike/ball is fuzzy, and depends on the player’s size and stance. However, for bang-bang plays, fair-foul calls, and close home-runs, there’s one right answer; there’s no skill equivalent to pitch-framing in these situations.

    Plus, there are 200+ pitches thrown each game, so there’s a lot of time for subjective calls to even out over the course of a game (i.e. if your guy gets caught looking on a pitch outside of the zone, chances are the same thing will happen to one of their guys over nine innings). For a game-breaking home run or play at the plate, that isn’t the case at all.

    • CUYanks

      How about when the first baseman comes off the bag a split second early to make it appear the throw beat the runner? This is a skill that is in play.

      • CTRob

        Seriously? How about the “neighborhood” play at 2nd? Where a guy is a foot off the bag and gets the call. Replay should’t change the game completely. HR’s, Fair/foul/, plays at home. That’s it.

        • CUYanks

          Imagine, if there were replay on those plays at second, how many fewer double plays would be turned due to second basemen being excessively cautious about staying on 2nd (and potentially more injuries at second as well). There are many plays where deceiving the umpire on vague calls is a part of the skill of the game. How about a player trying/not trying to avoid getting hit by pitch. Should there be replay judging his intent? There are so many judgment calls in the game, and out/safe ball/strikes are just the beginning of them.

          I think the only reason that the current replay has been acceptable is that umpires often have difficulty getting good position or a good view on these home run calls which are very far from their original starting points. Once we start asking umpires to look at the calls they already made a foot away from them, I think we are entering an area where the returns do not equal the effort/time wasted.

          • CTRob

            I couldn’t agree more with what you said there. “Time wasted” is an issue in itself when you consider the length of some games now and the potential length of games depending on how far we expand replay.

  • forensic

    Instant replay would’ve had no impact on that play actually. Nobody disputed whether it was fair or foul, so no replay would’ve been used. The dispute was about the umps discretion to let the run score or leave him at first based on their judgement call.

    • forensic

      That should be third base, not first.

    • Mike Axisa

      I mean if they had replay, they use it to make the correct call and there’s no argument. Then Joe can’t come out and wave his arms.

  • Deep Thoughts

    All these arguments to leave an archaic flawed system in place out of “tradition” are bogus. It was so romantic when Bob Gibson was beanballing and Gaylord Perry was slicing and lubing up the ball to the tune of a Hall of Fame career.

    I’ll bet the Hawkeye system wouldn’t get so defensive about a bad ball/strike call, if it made one, that it would throw players and managers in the *dugout* out of the game due to miraculously-audible comment. I’ll bet the Hawkeye system wouldn’t bump or poke a player or manager with its portly gut as it escalated, rather than calmed down, an on-field argument.

    Like every other group or industry, if these guys won’t self-regulate, and address its problem children with additional training and monitoring for progress, then they deserve to be rendered obsolete along with the woolen uniform.

  • MattG

    The biggest problem IR will present is still so misunderstood. Yes, there are many mistakes made, and all those mistakes could be corrected by IR. But there is an opportunity cost: How many of those mistakes are actually argued? Very few. Surprisingly few.

    Once IR is inserted into the game, it will suddenly be incumbent upon every manager to automatically argue any play that is close. Think about this for a minute, and you know it is true.

    Images and captions like the ones at the top of this post will have you think IR would reduce arguments. What is reality is it will increase them, and by huge amounts. How can that be managed?

    Please don’t say a challenge system. Anything but a challenge system!

    • JAG

      I don’t understand how a 5th-Umpire system would cause problems in this way. A 5th umpire sits in the umpire’s room/a booth/pretty much wherever and watches an HD video of the game in progress with a radio to the crew chief. If he sees something off, he tells the crew chief and they reverse it. Simple, short, leaves no room for argument from the manager, and they get the best look at every play in the game. This system also leaves the ever-so-beloved “human element” in umpiring the game. It would need to be coupled with better regulation of the umpires to make sure they are actually competent and not show-boating, but it would create 15 more ML jobs (extra umpire every game) so I don’t see how the union could have a problem with that.

  • Tyrone Sharpton

    mike, how do you edit videos to get little sections that you can put in place of pics in some of these stories? looks cool

  • CUYanks

    Also, imagine this. A lot of players strategy/play is dictated by the immediate calls of umpires. For HR calls, worrying about contingent plays on calls that weren’t made is not a huge issue. If it wasn’t called a HR on the field, but actually was, they can award the HR. If it was called a home run but wasn’t, then they can use a small amount of judgement to rule a double/out/advance base runners.

    Now, if we extend this to in play fair foul calls, we have 2 possibilities.

    (1) A fair ball is changed to a foul and the play never happened. (This is generally not an issue)
    (2) A foul ball is declared fair.

    In case (2), now you have the issue of determining what “would have happened” had the ball been called fair. In some cases, maybe a double makes sense, or appropriate awarding of bases at the umpire’s discretion. But what about a ball hit down the 3rd base line on the ground, which is fielded by the third baseman, called foul, the runner doesn’t finish running, the fielding doesn’t throw to 1st. What do we call this, if it turns out it was fair? Can double and triple plays be allowed to be turned on these types of plays where the runners are deceived by an incorrect (and then later reversed) call that ends the play?

    If we extend it to out/safe calls, then what about plays where the incorrect calls removes a force and changes the strategy of the runners or end the inning prematurely, and what about the less clear-cut situations where the runner’s/fielder’s strategy is changed by the apparent situation on the field.

    If we extend the replay too much more, get ready for a lot of situations like