Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
Major League Baseball announced a new proposal that would greatly expand the reach of instant replay during games.
The new proposal — which still needs to be approved by a lot of different groups — would allow review for nearly all plays (ball and strike calls being the most obvious exclusion). The system would be based on challenges, similar to football, and managers would have a set number of challenges over the course of a game, while winning a challenge allows them to retain it for another use later in the game. Reviews would take place in a central command center, as opposed to a booth on site.
A number of Mets weighed in on this announcement, including Terry Collins.
“I think it’s a great idea. I think we have to keep up with the technology of today. That’s where our sport is going. That’s where every sport is going.”
Collins added that he was concerned that replay might put second basemen at risk by taking away the “neighborhood play.” As it stands now, second basemen often turn doubleplays without actually stepping on the bag. This is generally overlooked by umpires because the fielder is avoiding the takeout slide. If those calls are reviewed and overturned, second basemen will have to be careful to step on the base and we may see more collisions at second because of it.
Expanded replay is long-overdue for baseball and I’m glad MLB is taking big steps now. I think the manager challenge system is probably the best place to start, though I hope they stay open to adaptations as we see the new rules in action. The particulars of the challenges seem a little overly complex to me. Three challenges (with another in extra innings) seems like a lot and limiting them to one in innings 1-6 and two in innings 7-9 seems unnecessary. Either a call is questionable or it isn’t; it shouldn’t matter when it happens. As for whether it would slow down the game, if the technology is being deployed well, I don’t think it’ll be a problem. A lot of time is already lost to arguments and ejections and I don’t see this adding significantly to that, especially with a limited number of challenges.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
I’ll believe it when I see it. I think it will happen eventually, but MLB is notorious for taking forever to implement change. It takes years from the time of conception through review, and the MLBPA getting involved, to actually being law. And, who knows how technology changes during that timetable to adjust the system further. That said, I’m fine with doing something. The reality is that umps are humans and humans are flawed and they’ve always been flawed. I don’t think umpiring is better or worse today than decades ago. I mean, if a call was botched in 1940, only memory could be the basis for argument. Today, fans and media can see their mistakes, go back, see them again, and again, and from multiple angles. To ignore this reality is silly, and not fair to paying customers, the players and especially the umpires, who you’d think would welcome cover for their errors.
In regards to this specific plan, I’m with Maggie in that the challenge system seems inconsistent with baseball as a game. These managers do not need to add strategy to an already complicated, ultra-nuanced game. Frankly, I’d prefer MLB take its queues from the NHL not the NFL.
Michael Baron, Contributor
Personally, I’m not a fan of any replay, let alone expanded replay. Don’t get me wrong – I understand the need to use it for home run calls, especially in these new ballparks with weird boundaries when it’s difficult to sometimes determine whether or not a ball cleared a wall or a line. But, I’ve said before I think replay serves as a cop out for umpires to improve at their play calling, and expanding replay gives them an even bigger excuse to not work on positioning, lines of sight, and asking for on-field help. The only way for any replay system to be effective is to use it as part of a grading system for the umpires. That could promote improvement, motivate them to hone their skills, and make more accurate calls naturally without the aid of technology.
Just do a better job, and the need to use technology can be limited.
Andrew Wharton, Contributor
It’s about time! The year 2014 marks the fifteen-year anniversary of the NFL’s current replay system. That’s right, fifteen years. This would be a much-needed victory for baseball, a sport that has been tarnished beyond belief over the past decade. To be honest, I’d be even happier with a format that more closely resembled the NFL’s proven model–two challenges for the entire game, with all replays initiated by the officiating crew in extra innings. Maybe it’s just me, but the proposed distribution of challenges seems a bit weird. But unlike many, I’m not worried about the pace of the game; that problem is more a result of pitchers and batters taking too long in between pitches, and can be mitigated by enforcing the already-existing time limit. In the end, what fans will see is a higher quality product, rather than walking away feeling cheated and asking “what if they had gotten the call right?” With more people watching now than ever before, this is a great way to take some of the pressure off the umpires.