Archive for Instant Replay

Expanded instant replay has been officially approved for the 2014 season, MLB announced. The owners, players’ union, and umpires’ union all had to sign off on the new system before it could be implemented. Replays will be conducted at the league’s central office in New York, not on-site by the umpires.

The system is explained here. Here’s the short version: Managers get two challenges per game, but they lose the second challenge if the first is unsuccessful. Kinda silly, but whatever. The crew chief can elect to review any play from the seventh inning on without a manager’s challenge. The full list of reviewable plays are right here and notice that the neighborhood play at second base is not reviewable. That could have created some headaches. Clubs are now allowed to show any and all replays on the ballpark scoreboard, even those that were not reviewed. That’s neat. It’s not a perfect system but it is progress.

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As the GM Meetings wrapped up today, Bud Selig confirmed MLB’s owners unanimously approved expanded instant replay for the 2014 season. Both the players’ and umpires’ unions must sign off on the plan before it can be implemented, but that is expected to happen. “There isn’t one play or one instance that changed my mind. It has just happened over time. I know we’re doing the right thing,” said the commissioner.

Under the new system, each manager will be given two challenges to use at any point in the game. Managers were expected to be given three challenges under an earlier proposal, but they could only use one in the first six innings. I’m glad they changed that. Challenges are lost only if the play is not overturned — the play is reviewed off-site and the ruling is relayed to the umpiring crew — and if the challenge is successful, the manager retains it for use later in the game. Balls and strikes can not be challenged (duh) and homerun calls will still be handled by the umpires, as has been the case since 2008.

MLB tested the new system during Arizona Fall League play last week — managers were given an unlimited number of challenges and were encouraged to use them so they could work out any bugs — and things went fine. The games themselves were painfully slow because of all the replays, but that won’t be an issue next year as long as each manager is limited to two challenges. The challenges and replays themselves were quick and easy, usually taking less than a minute. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s definitely an improvement. Hooray.

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Via Bob Nightengale: MLB is prepared to adopt an expanded replay system that would give managers the opportunity to challenge a disputed play. Managers would get three challenges per game but could only use one in the first six innings (wtf?), and most (but not all) plays would be reviewable. Reviews will be made by a central office that will remain in contact with the crew chief.

Expanding instant replay is great and MLB should be all for it, but the manager challenge system is … questionable. There will be a lot of ways to exploit the system, namely by having someone in the clubhouse watching replays before telling the manager to formally issue the challenge. I suppose you could also see a situation where a challenge is made just to give a reliever more time to warm up. I dunno, we’ll see. There is a phasing plan to implement the system in 2014, but the final vote won’t come until the owners’ meetings in November. The players’ and umpires’ unions must sign off as well. Getting the umps to agree could be a headache.

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Via Jayson Stark: Instant replay is unlikely to be expanded in time for next season. MLB tested out a new system for fair-or-foul calls at Yankee Stadium and CitiField late last season, but the league can’t decide on a technology or how to employ it. We went through the exact same “MLB is looking into it … lol too bad” song and dance last offseason.

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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.

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement has garnered lots of negative attention mostly due to spending restrictions on amateur players, but one of the great things it’s done is expand instant replay. In addition to homers (“boundary calls,” technically), the replay system will be expanded to include fair-or-foul calls, trapped calls, and fan interference. Unfortunately, it won’t happen in 2012.

According to the AP, expanded replay will not be instituted this year because MLB and the two unions (players and umpires) were unable to come to an agreement on an acceptable set of rules. The umpires want something in return for agreeing to replay — like improved benefits or pensions — and there is also concern about different camera angles at different parks. I’m amazed they rushed to get the new playoff system put in place but not expanded replay. If I had to pick one or the other for this season, I know which one I would pick, and it isn’t the one they chose.

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During the pivotal game 2 of the Yanks’ and Twins’ 2009 American League Division Series, Joe Mauer lofted a ball down the left field line. It bounced fair in front of Melky Cabrera and bounded into the stands. The umpire though called it a foul ball, and the Yanks went onto win that game in 11 innings. If ever there were an appropriate time for instant replay, that play was it.

Today, we learn that baseball is considering expanding instant replay. Per the Associated Press, video review could be expanded in 2012 to “include trapped balls and fair-or-foul rulings down the lines.” MLB umps would not review safe or not calls, and strikes and balls would remain under the purview of the home plate umpire. Outside of a nostalgic appeal for history, there’s no reason not to do that. Getting these calls right takes minimal effort, and should take paramount importance in the scheme of a nine-inning game often decided by a matter of inches.

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When Francisco Cervelli‘s throw to Derek Jeter arrived at the bag six feet ahead of Ian Kinsler, Jeter knew the Rangers’ second baseman had been caught stealing. He applied the tag on Kinsler’s shoulder and, without waiting for second base umpire Alfonso Marquez’s call, flipped the ball to Cano to start the around-the-horn. Cano caught the ball and stood there agape. Marquez had called Kinsler safe.

Somehow, in the ensuing moment of disbelief that followed, no one on the Yankees was thrown out of the game. Francisco Cervelli ran toward second base with an “Are you kidding me?” look on his face. Jeter says “Wait a minute” and starts conversing with the umpire. Joe Girardi, looking as mad as I’ve ever seen him, comes charging out on the field. But the outrage was to no avail. Marquez wouldn’t reverse his call, and baseball, mired in some traditionalist past where an easily correctible human error is allowed to rule the game, can’t figure out how to implement a sensible instant replay review. In the amount of time Girardi argued, the play could have been called correctly.

It’s not stretch to say that Marquez’s call changed the pace of the game. After Kinsler stole, Mitch Moreland walked, and Bengie Molina sacrificed the runners. Pedro Borbon hit a tapper to second that plated Kinsler, and then Javier Vazquez induced an Elvis Andrus flyout to end the inning. Andrus shouldn’t have been batting, and if the fallacy of the predetermined outcome were to hold true, the inning should have ended with the score knotted at zero.

Of course, the game ended up being a tense and endless one-run affair that ended in a walkoff in the bottom of the 13th. Of course, the Yanks failed to hit with runners in scoring position, going 3 for 17 and stranded 18 runners over the course of the game. Of course, Joba, oh so good lately, couldn’t escape The Eighth Inning with a lead. Of course, the Rangers used their expanded roster to send every person in Arlington to the mound. While the game turned on any one of these moves, the fact remains that Kinsler’s stolen base/caught stealing changed the game.

In 2010, Marquez simply as no excuse. He was standing above the play; he had a great view of the throw and the tag; and yet he missed it. Just as Jim Joyce blew the call in Detroit, so too did Marquez. It happens. But that doesn’t mean it should be allowed to stand. A simple review — one shot of the tag on instant replay — would have been enough to get the call right, and it’s moments such as these — isolated plays where the one event in question triggers a dead ball — are ripe for replay.

Major League Baseball continues to insist that any version of instant replay review would mess with the pace of the game. Fans don’t want to wait, they say, while the umpires huddle. Maybe that’s true for some people, but I’d rather see the umps get calls such as the one last night right. If it means waiting a minute or two, that’s a-OK with me. It’s far more enjoyable to see the game called properly than it is to see Ron Washington make five mid-inning pitching changes.

I went to bed annoyed at the Kinsler call last night, and I woke up still annoyed. The Yanks could have overcome it with just another hit or two with runners in scoring position, but they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. And that is fully on Alfonso Marquez and Bud Selig’s obsession with some misguided notion of nostalgia.

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Oct
30

Selig against expanding replay

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Before last night’s World Series game, before the bottom of the 7th ended with a controversial call and the top of the 8th ended with a flat-out wrong call, Bud Selig spoke to reporters about the state of baseball. Generally, he feels the game is strong, and fifteen years after a crippling labor strike, it is. He also addressed the increased use of technology in the game, and it is here that the Commissioner took a stance.

As Jim Caple reports:

MLB commissioner Bud Selig said he has been soliciting outside opinion from managers and general managers over the past few weeks and said no one offered a good explanation why the umpiring was so bad in the first rounds of the postseason.

He also declined to call for further use of replay. “The more baseball people I talk to, there is a lot of trepidation about it and I think their trepidation is fair,” Selig told reporters before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday. “I’ve spent a lot of time [on this] over the past month and will spend a lot of time in the ensuing months as well. I don’t want to overreact. You can make light of that but when you start to think you’re going to have more intrusions — and even if their good intrusions — it’s something that you have to be very careful about. Affecting the game on the field is not something I really want to do.”

Selig has not been quick to embrace new technology over baseball tradition, in part due to worries about the pace of games. “Life is changing and I understand that,” he said. “I do like the human element and I think the human element for the last 130 years has worked pretty well. There have been controversies but there are controversies in every sport.”

Let’s take the 7th inning last night. With two on and one out, Johnny Damon hit a sinking line drive toward Ryan Howard. The Phillies’ first baseman either scooped the ball on a short hop or caught it above the ground on a fly. The first base umpire, standing behind the play, hesitated and that signaled that Damon was out on a line drive. Howard, though, had already thrown to second, seemingly as if to start a double play. Replays seemed to show that the ball kicked up some dirt into Howard’s glove, but even under a fine microscope, it was an inconclusive review.

Here, the call wasn’t the first base umpire’s to make. Blocked by Ryan Howard, he couldn’t see the ball hit the ground or Howard’s glove. At least the umps conferred about the play and upheld the call. On the calls Joe explored a few weeks ago, those ranging from obvious to atrocious, there are no answers. The umpires were in position to make the right calls and simply did not.

I’ve long called for increased instant replay, and last night’s game showed a need for it. I hear Selig’s concerns, but in Game 1 the umpires conferred about the Robinson Cano double play. A video review of Howard’s scoop would have taken the same amount of time. The human element, as Selig called it, has been a part of the game because video replay technological was not available for much of baseball history. Now that it is, Major League Baseball should embrace it to an extent reasonable. When everyone sees the correct call 10 or 15 times on broadcasts and highlights reels, the game is doing itself no favors if it eschews the opportunity to get it right the first time.

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Oct
10

Thinking about instant replay

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I had a ticket to spot 7 of the standing room section behind Section 229. The view was fine, the crowd was electric and the game was, simply put, one of the best games — if not the best — I’ve seen live. I missed but one play, and apparently it was a controversial one.

Leading off the 11th inning, Joe Mauer lofty a Damaso Marte offering down the left field. From where I was standing, the ball kept slicing and slicing and then…it and Melky Cabrera disappeared from view. Phil Cuzzi called it a foul ball, and I breathed a sigh of relief. That no one came out to argue was telling. The ball, I assumed, was foul, and it was not until after the game, when my dad said, “Joe Mauer’s ball was fair,” that I had any idea the call was in doubt.

As we all know now, that ball hit fair territory by a good six inches, and Phil Cuzzi, the left field ump whose sole job it was to make that call, blew it. After the game, the umpires were verklempt. “We just feel horribly when that happens,” Crew Cheif Tim Tschida said to reporters after the game. “There’s a guy sitting over there in the umpire’s dressing room right now that feels horrible.”

The Twins bemoaned the call. Noting how a lead-off double could have changed the entire complexion of the 11th inning, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was incredulous. “We had six umpires out there, I think. I think, right, six? Six umpires,” he sputtered.

Since Cuzzi’s call and the subsequent shut-down relief work of David Robertson, nearly everyone baseball news outlet has called for expanded instant replay. We have, for example,Anthony Rieber and Brian Costa calling for just that, and Buster Olney thinks more instant replay would be a good fit for baseball. Even an NFL VP mocked baseball’s officiating.

The Yankees, meanwhile, think otherwise. As Marc Carig reported, Girardi is a-OK with the current state of replay in baseball. “I think it would break the rhythm of the game. Where would you stop?” he asked earlier today.

Girardi asks a good question: Where would you stop? With balls that go out of play, the answer is easy. Had instant replay review been used last night, Joe Mauer would have been awarded a ground rule double. But what if the ball had hit the side wall and stayed in play? If the foul call is overturned, where does Mauer end up — on second base or back in the batter’s box?

I’ve been a long-time proponent of instant replay review in baseball. If we have the technology to make the right call, we should use it. But although Buster Olney calls for the “immediate” expansion of instant replay, it isn’t that easy. The Commissioner’s Office will have to figure just how to deal with overturned calls. Unlike in football when the review is after the play, in baseball, plays unfold differently if a ball is fair. How baseball addresses that problem will determine whether or not the sport can effectively employ instant replay review. There is a very real chance it cannot.

Although this is tagged an open thread, I’d love to see a discussion about instant replay. Still, anything goes. Please use this game thread for Cardinals/Dodgers chatter. And play nice.

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