Major League Baseball’s need for instant replay

Debate on instant replay in Major League Baseball is once again heating up. Is there a need for instant replay in MLB? Most definitely. The game, like technology, has evolved. MLB should implement instant replay across the board. Without it, the game is suffering a credibility problem. As long as human umpires call games, there will be blown calls.The problem: baseball can’t afford mistakes.

Last season, long-time MLB umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base in the 9th costing a no-hitter. Just a few days ago, Rockies pitcher Franklin Morales rolled his ankle on a play at first where the runner was out but called safe. Granted, the umpire was a rookie umpire, but still.

Blown calls such as these cost the game credibility. Baseball has always been a game of perception.

Umpires see strikes and balls. Batters and pitchers see balls and strikes. I’m, once again, not advocating for replay on balls and strikes. However, some calls warrant a second look. Baseball is about history and statistics. Without replay, the history of the game is questionable. Replay will enhance the accuracy of the game for future generations.  The history of the game, as in all sports, is the measuring stick for greatness. We cannot go back in time obviously. However, I believe the game, and its commissioner, need to modernize and modernize soon.

In December, the current CBA between MLB and the Players Union expires. Currently we are witnessing the same debacle in football. However, the NFL’s product seems to be more marketable. Football, more so than baseball, appeals to more people. Not to mention, coaches in the NFL can challenge what they perceive to be bad calls.

Major League Baseball cannot afford to lose fans. A lockout will have such an impact. For example, look at Tampa Bay’s attendance record. What will a lockout do to that team? Incorporating instant replay now will add to the credibility and competitiveness of the game. This in turn will not only retain an audience, but may attract new fans.

In this instance, we have the technology. Why not use it?

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!

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6 thoughts on “Major League Baseball’s need for instant replay

  1. The problem with using instant replay in baseball is that a play doesn’t end just because of a catch, tag, or out/safe call. A lot of things happen or could have happened as a direct result of the disputed call. Fixing the call will be simple; sorting out everything that happened afterward will be a disaster.

    Example 1–The left fielder dives for a line drive and traps the ball, but the ump rules that it was a catch. Replay shows that the ball was indeed trapped and the call is overturned. Easy. You’ve determined that the batter shouldn’t have been called out. But now you have to rectify it, and this is where problems arise. Where are you going to put the batter? 1st base? 2nd base? Umpire judgment?? Where do you put the runner on 2nd base who presumably retreated to second when the saw the ump signal “catch”?

    Example 2–Same play as above, but the ball is caught and the ump rules “no catch”. The runner on 2nd goes halfway to 3rd, sees the “no catch” call, and proceeds to score on the play. Replay proves that the ball was clearly caught, so the batter is called out. What do you do with the runner on 2nd, who never tagged up after the catch. Is he out too? He made his decision to advance because of the “no catch” call. If you put him back on 2nd base, now you’ve denied the defense to double him off. What if he ran on contact because he didn’t believe the ball would be caught (or forgot how many outs there were)? Now there’s a legitimate argument by the defense that they missed an easy double play.

    • I think resolutions to these situations doen’t need to be overly complicated. Example 1-batter goes to 1st runner back to 2nd. Same theory as a ground rule double. Example 2-runner goes back to second as if it never happened. Not having replay is significantly more detrimental to the game. 9 times out of 10 replay shows the blown call and the out come should be changed. Baseball needs replay similar to NFL style replay. Thanks for the response.

      -Vince V

      • Okay, but what if it was the shortstop trapping the line drive with a runner on 1st instead of the left fielder? Still put runners on 1st and 2nd? Had the correct “no catch” call been made in this situation, he would have PROBABLY thrown to 2nd base for the force out and possibly even turned a double play. I say PROBABLY because the runner may have been going on the pitch, the ball may have been hit deep in the hole between 3rd and short, and so forth.

        In example 2, what if the shortstop and the runner was attempting to steal? Now replay confirms the catch and the baserunner is standing at 3rd. How can you put him back on 2nd when it should have been an easy double play.

        Yeah, you can assume in my very first example that the outcome would have been runners on 1st and 2nd on a line drive hit to left, but you still don’t know that. The runner on 1st could have attempted to go to 3rd (more likely on a hit to right field).

        In football, replay works a little better because on “reviewable” calls it’s black or white either way. They don’t guess that the ball probably would been spotted on the 38 and it probably would have been 2nd down. They know this because when the receiver stepped out of bounds at the 38, the play was over. They don’t guess where to spot the ball after replay proved that a pass originally ruled complete was really incomplete. A pass ruled incomplete on the field is NOT reviewable for the same reason I’m saying it won’t work in baseball. Because even if you prove that the call was blown, nobody knows what would have happened otherwise.

      • We are dealing with what-Ifs. Each play is going to yield multiple potential situations. There would need to be a control on how many challenges a team can use. Maybe only two per 9 innings? This isn’t a perfect solution but a necessary change now that the technology is available. The possible outcomes you describe still occur with the human element today. The problem is there is no appeal regardless of how blatantly wrong a call is.

  2. yes and no- how much time will instant replays add to games? i used to work in television- and i know how much time baseball games eat up- and how many commercials have to compensate.
    as a fan- i’m all for it- i just don’t know if the movers and shakers will think it’s worth the added cost. last year there was a lot of talk about how to streamline games, ie: take less time readying for bats, etc. your proposal is the complete opposite.

    • You raise an excellent point about how long games take. However, I think quality as in accuracy of the product on the field is more important. Fans don’t want to see potential no-hitters or perfect games blown due to bad calls. Or a potential game winning run gets called out when replay shows they are safe. With fans paying very good money for tickets baseball needs to look at this. Again, managers should be limited in what they can challenge. The NFL implemented what I think is a good model. Baseball should do the same.

      Thanks for the response.

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