Walkoff Walk Point/Counterpoint: Instant Replay in Baseball

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In last night's Mets-Yankees tussle on ESPN, the umpires conferenced to discuss a call on Carlos Delgado's line drive to left field that was initially (and correctly) ruled a home run. After a short chit-chat, home plate ump Bob Davidson incorrectly overruled the original call and deemed that the ball was foul, which prompted an incessantly irritating conversation between announcers Joe Morgan and Jon Miller.

It also prompted a short and still irritating conversation between your Walkoff Walk bloggers, yours truly and Mr. Camp Tiger Claw, which I have replicated below, for your consideration:


Rob: can we blast instant replay
CTC: in baseball?
Rob: yes
CTC: i think they should have it for home runs
it's fucking stupid not to
Rob: BOO
Rob: i am against any rule that extends the length of games
even a proposed rule that awards me a hummer after every home run
CTC: that's totally insane
it would get use like once a month
at best
Rob: ha
i find that highly dubious
even if the managers werent allowed to challenge a call, THEYD STILL TRY TO
AND SLOW DOWN MY GAME
CTC: i find any logic against getting the score correct dubious
Rob: how about we make umpires into bionic superhumans instead
i vote for that
in theory, every call would be right
in practice, i'd rather have the umpires figure it out on their own
CTC: how about we go back to these gloves

Rob: well that's crazy
CTC: How about we take out the DH
Rob: whee
CTC: ..wait a second
Rob: like...actually take him out with a rifle?

...and scene. Commenters, what do you think about instant replay in baseball and/or superbionic umpirebots?


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28 Comments

As long as they all possess the rugged handsomeness of Doug Harvey, I have no problem with umpirebots.

Joeys!

Holy crap I actually agree with Iracane about something.

Rob, couldn't disagree with you more. The solution to the game length problem ISN'T running away from a technology that leads to more accurate decisions/rulings on difficult-to-judge plays. This isn't a 'taking the human element out of it' thing, like electronic ball-strike calling would constitute. It's a no-brainer to me.

Boo Rob. Yay CTC. It's silly that you'd not want to wait 4 minutes to know whether a ball is a HR or foul. It's added, what, 5 minutes per game max to football? And it's helped get calls right far more often than being annoying.

I'm all about the utilization of any technology we can possibly utilize. Be it simple instant replay review, or complex, superintelligent cyborgs, you gotta get the call right.

Do you think these guys ever had to deal with bad calls? Hell no, you just shoot the first baseman with a goddamn machine gun.

Baseball is not a timed sport like football. The length of games is way out of hand already and needs to be tamed, if anything. I support the use of robotic technology that would instantly call a fly ball foul or fair, or robotic technology that would call balls and strikes, or robotic technology that would rake the field WITHOUT DOING THE FUCKING YMCA.

Otherwise, don't make my games longer. The umpires last night made a huge mistake allowing themselves to be put in such a situation.

In a 162-game season, you don't have to get the call right. In the playoffs, maybe, but you have extra umpires out in left and right field.

And if some ump makes a Jeffrey-Maier-type mistake, then he should be executed on the spot.

You need to get that call right. Why else are you watching the game?

Maybe if guys like Jeter and A-Rod* didn't step out of the box after every pitch to adjust their batting gloves, 9-inning games wouldn't last four hours.

*Yankees used just to piss Rob off - it's most players.

I also support the execution of Steve Trachsel.

I mean... would it be just for home runs? Even that, to me, is suspect, and I feel like it only opens the door for every bullshit argument to be subject to instant replay. The way I see it, every team gets dicked over by calls but also sometimes gets helped by calls, and it all evens out in the end. The tiniest call can wind up being the game-changer, so how are you going to force umpires and managers to make those decisions on the spot?

I guess I might feel differently if I were a Padres fan after Game 163 last year. But even that game helps to prove my point: home runs aren't the only calls that have significant impact on a game, and there's simply no way to differentiate between which calls will make the difference in the end because you don't know what's coming after! I think you've got to accept the system as it is. And APDNR, even a ball/strike call can wind up being pivotal in a game, so why should home runs be given preference over that? What if an improperly called walk with 2 outs precedes a team staging a 3-run rally? That's a call that'll have more potential impact than a single home run call.

I mean... would it be just for home runs?

Yes.

@fmra

it's very simple. the rule can state "video replay may be used for x y and z but not for anything else." you don't have to open the door for minuscia like balls and strikes and did fuckface balk or whatever.

In fact, you could avoid long delay causing replays by figuring out which would be the most frequently challenged. i would say NO replay for did the guy leave the base before the ball was caught on a sacrifice.

It should be for things that are easily and quickly distinguishable upon looking at it closer - home runs and fair/foul balls down the line. That's it. Two-minute max to look at it. That's all you should need.

Right, guys, but my point is that singling out home runs or anything like that as the more important calls is fundamentally at odds with the nature of baseball, which is that the smallest call or play can wind up dramatically shifting the course of the game.

How is a home run vs a foul ball NOT the biggest swing in the game?

What if that call only makes a difference of one run vs. another call that ultimately leads the way to a difference of 3 runs? In that Padres/Rockies game, a totally botched (in my opinion) call at home plate made the difference between a freaking playoffs appearance.

Yikes I'm so ornery!

I give up. Let's get instant replay in there for home run calls, but only if MLB hires an extra umpire to sit in the booth and watch the TV.

i would be down to add non-force outs at the plate to reviewable plays.

i think if you're trying to minimize you should stick to plays that are strictly the difference between a run scoring and a run not scoring. If someone is erroneously called safe at first with two outs and the next guy jacks a monster tater tot, you can't say the shit call is what caused the tottage, can you? no, you can only say that Eric Gagne caused it.

@Rob

See? The instant replay in baseball plan is adding new jobs! Baseball is good for America.

What if Earth is really just a speck of dust on a giant's fingernail?

You can make it so what happened last night doesn't happen any more by saying "Home Run calls are reviewable, ____________ are not." Is the logic watertight in the grand scheme of things? No, but thinking like that about baseball would make any progress impossible.

Meh, I still think it's an all-or-nothing type deal. It works in football because they review everything, not just touchdown-scoring plays. Doing the same in baseball means 7-hour games and the end of umpiring as we know it. I say we stick with nothing as a much more reasonable alternative.

Because for plays at the plate or plays at a bag, or even trapped balls in the outfield, you've got umps basically right there, or within 50-100 feet. And they get it right enough that you trust their judgment, because that's how it's been for over a hundred years. But for a home run, or a ball down the line, you've got one pair of eyes watching a three-inch spheroid amid multi-colored walls, panels, scoreboards, fences, padding, poles, bricks, support beams, and all kinds of other crap.

It doesn't matter if it might not be the "most important" play, per se. It's one that is difficult for the umps to get right in many situations, and one that could be amended with a competent and comprehensive replay system.

I DON'T WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU GUYS ANYMORE

/grabs all her toys and runs inside the house

...no, seriously, I think you guys make great points, but I still disagree.

I know I'm coming late to the party on this, but I just want to add something... FMRS, football doesn't review everything, they only review black-and-white calls like catches, fumbles, in/out of bounds, etc. Pass interference, possibly the biggest 2-minute drill game-changer, is completely in the hands of the refs. That's akin to your balls-and-strikes argument. Home runs, bang-bang force outs, etc can all be reviewed fairly quickly, and not jeopardize the ebb and flow, historical integrity, or cheese and grits of our national pastime.

For what it's worth, I think the better sports analogy to what has been proposed is not football, but basketball. A relatively innocuous review period to verify highly specific questions (Was it a three-pointer? Was the shot released before the shot-clock or game-clock expired? Why was LeBron yelling at his mama?). I'm not for this kind of thing in baseball, but I would probably accept it and learn to love it.

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