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Replaying the replay

There are many things that bug me about instant replay in sports, but I would say the thing that bugs me most is that replay tends to burn a lot of the fun out and instead turn our games into boring side-session arguments about technicalities. This was never more true than Saturday afternoon, when the Kansas City Royals (and many fans) believed they were entitlted to a run they very clearly did not score. That’s exactly the sort of nonsense that replay was supposed to end. 

I’m in England now, writing some Premier League soccer, and it’s vivid how differently people here feel about sports. The soccer games are just as important to people here as any sport in America, probably more important, but fans seem to have very limited interest in replay. That is to say they have very limited interest in FIXING bad calls.

This is a generality, of course, but I ask a lot a lot people and they seem to view bad calls as essential to the experience. I take it that people LIKE bad calls, or at the very least like the comfort bad calls provide. Every loss can be (and is) pinned to some bogus penalty call … or a missed one. In the brilliantly dreary Burnley-Sunderland nil-nil draw I saw Saturday, just about every home fan left Turf Moor muttering about the time Burnley’s Lukas Jutkiewicz was held as he entered the penalty box. It should have been a penalty, or anyway it could have been a penalty, or anyway it probably wasn’t a penalty but the referee could have called it anyway — these were discussion points over dinners in Burnley, a surprisingly pretty mill-town in England that seems pulled directly out of the Dream Academy’s song “Life in a Northern Town.”

More about Burnley in a later story — the point is that soccer fans in England gnerally seem to see offiiating more as art than science. The idea, best I can tell, is to officiate in the MACRO than in the MICRO, to give each side an equal chance, to even things out in the long view, to (as announcers like to say) get it right in the end. It’s funny how we in North America have come to mock the “make-up call.” In English soccer, the make-up call seems to be a prominent strategy for making sure that things somewhat even out.

OK, I obviously have not asked every British soccer fan if they would want offiials painstakingly watching replays of every play — I might get a flood of emails from English football fans screaming about the state of officiating — but my sense is the vast majority would be horified by comprehensive replay. The point here isn’t to get every call exactly right. the point is to get the overall game at least mostly right.

We in America want every call right. So we have instituted expansive replay rules in every sport. This has led to all kinds of unforeseen things such as theoretical arguments about what consititutes a catch, when a quarterback’s arm is officially going forward and a sort of delayed cheering where you can’t get too excited about a play until it goes through committee. But we seem OK with the tradeoffs. As a nation, we like mistakes getting fixed.

But what about Saturday in Kansas City? Here was the situation — the Royals-Tigers game was tied at 1, sixth inning, and Kansas City had runners on second and third with one out. Omar Infante was at the plate, and this is probably not the time to talk about what a spectacularly awful season Omar Infante is having.

Infante hit a kind of loopy line drive to Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler, who caught the ball, paused a second, and then tried to double off Eric Hosmer at second base. It was an ill-advised throw by Kinsler (Hosmer was easily on the bag), and it was an even more ill-advised play by shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who made a sort of half-hearted reach for the ball. The ball rolled toward shallow left field. From third base, Kansas City’s Salvy Perez ran home and scored what appeared to be the go-ahead run.

Except Perez — in the most ill-advised move of all — did not go all the way back to third base to tag up (as he was required to since Kinsler caught the ball). The Tigers noticed this, appealed to third base, and at that point Perez should have been out and this bizarro play would have gone into the books with some of the classic blunders of recent Royals history.

Except for this — the umpire apparently failed to see Perez’ gaffe and called the runner safe. At this point, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus asked for replay, sending umpire Larry Vanover to those now familiar headsets connected with replay officials in New York. While all this was going on, the Royals jumbotron operator (doing what jumbotron operators do whenever official replay review is involved) showed the replay, which clearly showed Perez failing to tag up. The crowd groaned.

The New York replay officials then told Vanover something odd — it was explained that the play was NOT reviewable because it involved a runner tagging up. More on this in a minute. The official said it was left to the umpires on the field to make the call on the field. At this point, Vanover and the crew (claiming they were not affected by the replay on the scoreboard) overruled themselves and called Perez out.

And so now we find ourselves arguing THE CORRECT CALL — that is, arguing whether the umpires even have the right to change their incorrect call if it doesn’t fall precisely under replay guidelines. 

Well, so be it. There are two guiding principles here in the MLB replay rules — I’m assuming that the reason New York said the place was not reviewable is due to Rule V, D-2

The following calls will not be subject to review:

2. The Umpire’s judgment on whether a base runner left early when tagging up.

However, I think New York blew it — that should not be the guiding principle here at all. That rule specifically refers to a runner leaving early. The question here is not whether Perez left early but whether or not he tagged up at all. I believe the applicable rule here is Rule V, F-3 which talks about base running calls that ARE reviewable.

The following base running calls are reviewable:

3. Upon an appropriate appeal by the defensive Club, whether a base runner touched a base (see Rule 7.10(b) and Comment).

The rule 7.10(b) refers to failing to touch a base in order or missing a base with the ball in play. It seems this would be the guiding principle because there was an appropriate appeal by the Tigers and, essentially, Detroit was arguing that Perez did not touch the bases in order. He needed to touch third base again before home plate.

So, it seems pretty clear to me based on a basic reading of the rules that the Tigers DID have the right to replay there and New York got it wrong.

But … who cares? Again, we are left arguing sub-points of the rulebook rather than pointing out the most basic fact of all — Perez most definitely did not touch third. The umpires got the call OBVIOUSLY right. That would have been a farce if the Royals had been allowed to score that run … and I say that as someone who obviously wanted the Royals to win.

This is one of those side effects of replay. A friend and a Royals fan asked me if the Royals JumboTron operator actually cost the Royals this game by doing his/her job properly. That’s how ridiculous it can become. Salvador Perez’s base running brain cramp … Ned Yost’s inane bunting strategies … James Shields letdown against the bottom of the order … Alex Gordon and Josh Willingham’s ineptness at the plate … these are the things that cost the Royals the game. Also Max Scherzer’s dominance, Torii Hunter’s homer and Joe Nathan’s last strands of effectiveness. 

Bill Bryson once wrote a great bit about the difference between British and American attitudes toward over-the-counter drugs:

“An advertisement in Britain for a cold relief capsule, for instance, would promise no more than that it might make you feel a little better. You would still have a red nose and be in your pajamas, but you would be smiling again, if wanly. A commercial for the selfsame product in America, however, would guarantee total, instantaneous relief. A person on the American side of the Atlanta who took this miracle compound would not only throw off his pjs and get back to work at once, he would feel better than he had in years and finish the day having the time of his life at a bowling alley.

“The drift of all this was that the British don’t expect over-the-counter drugs to change their lives whereas we Amerian will settle for nothing less.”

The same goes for instant replay. In England, they seem to accept the possibility that replay could right some obvious wrongs (whether a ball crossed a the goal line for instance) but that it is not a panacea for every call in a soccer match, and that the tradeoffs are not worth making. In America, we want the panacea. It leads to us getting more calls right, no doubt. It also leads to long delays while referees determine the precise blade of grass to mark the football and stupid posts like this one about whether umpires followed the correct procedure in getting the right call. 

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72 Responses to Replaying the replay

  1. GWO says:

    I must agree with the most important part of this post – Burnley is indeed surprisingly pretty. Even the road there through Pendle is picturesque. Was driving through just as the game at Turf Moor was kicking off on my way up to Skipton.

    Saddleworth is nicer though – (biased local).

    • craimor says:

      Agreed, my mum grew up in Colne, not far from Burnley. Love the area and the people. Big Burnley supporters and thoroughly enjoy Turf Moor.

  2. Cathead says:

    This episode was a comedy of errors, beginning with the play itself. 1. Ian Kinsler made an ill-advised throw where he was not going to get an out, and the shortstop does not appear to be expecting it to come. 2. The runner at third fails to tag up. 3. Brad Ausmus and the Tigers can’t make a proper appeal play. Instead, he asks the umps to review a call they have not made. 4. The umps then review it anyway. Further, even if they had made a call on the appeal, it wasn’t supposed to have been reviewable. 5. The Royals can’t make a proper protest.

    • sanford943 says:

      In the end they got the play called correctly. I haven’t read any thing but did the umps ever give some explanation later. It was pretty obvious to every one that the runner at 3rd did not go back Even the fans knew it after they showed the replay And it was some minutes after the fans saw the replay that they finally called the runner out.

      • Tampa Mike says:

        He was clearly out, but the problem is it was not a reviewable play. They huddled to discuss and called him safe. The umpire called New York and the video was played on the scoreboard, meanwhile the umpire was told the play wasn’t reviewable. They huddled again and determined that he hadn’t tagged and was out. They used replay even though they weren’t allowed to.

    • Chuck Long says:

      The Tigers made a proper appeal to third. The ump called him safe, and Ausmus appealed that decision.

      • Brett Alan says:

        Yeah, there was a comedy of errors in the broadcast booth, too. As soon as I saw the first replay, it seemed clear to me that Perez hadn’t tagged up, but the announcers didn’t use it. Then they showed Scherzer clearly asking for the ball, and it was clear to me he wanted to appeal, and the announcers still didn’t catch it. And then they somehow managed to completely miss the appeal itself, so even when they realized what the issue was, they were saying that the Tigers hadn’t actually appealed, which was wrong. Bad job.

        I’m not 100% sure that Joe’s interpretation of the rules is accurate…but if it isn’t, it SHOULD be. The intent of making tagging up non-reviewable is to avoid having to look at two separate replays that may or may not be synchronized, so the exception shouldn’t apply to a situation where the runner never tags up at all. The call wasn’t about whether he left early, which is what the expectation refers to. Hopefully baseball will clarify.

  3. I was once for replay. It will only be for limited situations. It won’t encroach on the game. It is a monstrosity that has taken over our sports. Made them less enjoyable to watch and they STILL get calls in replay wrong all the time. I now strongly support getting rid of it all together. I know that won’t happen but maybe we can scale it back so coaches have to choose a few judicious uses of it.

  4. Rap Brown says:

    Hey Cathead sore loser much? First, the Tigers did make the proper appeal play, Fox showed it. Second, why a review isn’t allowed on that play is just dumb, but I’m sure you’ll have a reason.

    • cathead says:

      Rap – I don’t have a dog in the fight. I’m just pointing out that the entire episode was poorly played and managed baseball.

  5. Rap Brown says:

    Bottom line is you’re after integrity in the game, and on that one the umps got it right, thank goodness

  6. Alan Jacobs says:

    I think there’s a more important reason why soccer fans in general are willing to tolerate officiating error rather than be governed by replay: commitment to the flow of the game. In a game with no time-outs and no pauses in the action except for injury and halftime, replay is far, far more intrusive and game-altering that it is in any of the big American sports.

  7. Greg Finley says:

    Would like to hear some comment on Rule 7.10. For instance, was the request for replay a “second appeal” and did the play to double off Hosmer at second base constitute a “play or attempted play” as contemplated in the appeal process?

  8. Michael Grimaldi says:

    I don’t know How you got through that entire column without mentioning Don Denkinger and the 1985 World Series, Joe, but it’s a great overview of one of the most frustrating issues I have as a sports fan. On this topic, I wish I was British. (Or Scottish, I suppose.)

  9. Stu Shafer says:

    What about this rule, regarding re-touching the base after a caught fly ball? Second sentence, 7.08d: “He shall not be called out for failure to retouch his base after the first following pitch, or any play or attempted play.” That seems to mean that when Kinsler made an attempted play on Hosmer at second, Salvy did not have to tag up. But then, it would also seem to negate all the triple plays that occur when two players are thrown out after a catch.

    • Brett Alan says:

      Er, no. Kinsler’s thrown is part of the same play. The rule means that you can’t appeal after ANOTHER play–that is, you can’t appeal after the next pitch, or after the pitcher touches the rubber and does something other than appeal, like try to pick a runner off.

  10. John Walters says:

    This is easy.
    The moment the runner leaves 3rd, he is “tagging up.” And that was before ball was caught. The issue of him taking a step back toward 3rd and not touching is entirely irrelevant. He was simply a guy in the base path who left 3rd before ball was caught and then scored. How he does it in between the bases is completely irrelevant.
    So the first rule is the applicable rule.
    Whether we should put “getting the call right” versus conforming to the established set of rules is an entirely different debate.

    • jposnanski says:

      Totally disagree. The reason for the replay exception for “leaving early” is that they do not have two cameras, synchronized, to see exactly when a ball is caught and when the runner leaves — otherwise that would not be an exception. That is not for conforming to any established set of rules it is because of the limitations of replay.

      This was not the appeal. The appeal was he NEVER tagged up — timing had nothing to do with it — which I think pretty clearly falls under 7.10.

      • Nathan H says:

        I thought the “appeal” on such a play had to begin with the defensive team stepping on the base with the ball, then appealing to the ump that they had doubled up the runner that did not tag up. The telecast was confusing to me in that they never confirmed that Detroit actually tagged 3rd, and the appeal seemed to begin with Ausmus asking for a review of whether Perez tagged up. I was wrangling a toddler at the time and might have missed it, but that would seem to be important.

      • Dave says:

        The synchronization, or lack thereof, would inhibit having replays for balls and strikes. The strike zone is 3D, not 2D, and the center field shot (actually almost all places, left center) only shows 2D. You’d need a camera overhead, looking straight down at the plate then have it in sync with the (moved to direct centerfield) outfield camera.

        Some quick calculations to show where the ball was in one 2D plane, say XZ, and where it was in the other 2D plane, XY at the SAME millisecond, or whatever the time dimension is chosen to be.

        Oh, and the sensors used for that outfield shot need to be temperature calibrated, and they can vary depending if, say in a day game, the sun was out when they were calibrated vs. it is now behind clouds.

        There was an article about the calibration and how the shots can show things a few inches off that was referenced in a SABR journal article a few years ago. I pulled that reference up then, but I can’t locate it now.

        Having a camera based ball-strike call is not an easy problem. Is it doable to a degree? Probably, but how much better than what we have right now, I don’t know. Oh yes, it’d still involve the human element as someone “in the booth” has to decide quickly what the heights are to put in for each batter.

        Personally, I’ll go with umps.

        • Dave says:

          I should have added above a practical problem. The camera directly above the plate will at some point be hit by a pop-up. Now there are easy fixes to the rules of what to do in that situation–say, make it a dead, foul ball. But, it’s been struck and is quite likely not to be in perfect alignment any longer. So, does anyone want the game stopped however long is necessary to call out “the step ladders” and have a guy go up and adjust it and then have it tested? And if you say that’s not necessary, well, then I’ll say that the “computerized sensor” system cannot be demonstrated to be better than an umps’ eyes.

          • invitro says:

            “I’ll say that the “computerized sensor” system cannot be demonstrated to be better than an umps’ eyes.”

            I thought sensors were shown to be better than an ump a long time ago? Like decades ago? I’m curious to read your source.

          • Dave says:

            No “reply” beneath the comment below so I’ll answer here. Yes, sensors are better than human eyes. But, the sensors must be set by human eyes and therein lies the problem. As one example, consider a batter coming to the plate. Someone has to set the sensor as to where the player’s knees are. Each player will be different. Who does that? The sensor doesn’t. Is it someone in a booth staring at a TV screen?

            For me, I’d rather have a human being right behind the plate doing that.

            My argument, as a retired engineer, is that too many people think of computers and other electronics as being wonderfully capable. They are totally incapable without being programmed. So, it’s not a question of taking the human element out of the call but where one wants the human element to be and how best to effect that.

            I also know that when a camera is in left center we are seeing on our TV screens only an approximation of the trajectory of the ball crossing or not crossing the XZ plane of the 3D strike zone,

            It’s not a simple problem to solve, at least as simple as many think it is, and the human element will NEVER be out of the decision process.

      • Jim says:

        It appears to be a moot point now, but I’m pretty sure that the pitcher returned to the mound before the appeal to replay was made. Don’t the rules say that all replays are nullified after the pitcher toes the rubber?

      • KHAZAD says:

        7.10 is a review of whether a player touched a base at all. Perez touched third. He was already established as a baserunner there. The appeal should have consisted of throwing the ball to the base, and the umpire signaling out or safe. The umpires discussed the replay on the video board, so the play was replay reviewed, and it should not have been.

        Perez did leave early, and they got the call right, so I am not upset about that, but if you are discussing whether they did that properly, the answer is a clear no.

        The most amazing thing about the entire situation to me was that they showed the replay at all. In football stadiums, they show these all the time. At Kaufmann, I have been to many games since they put in the giant HD video scoreboard, which was, until the opening Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas, the biggest one in sports. They have not once shown a controversial play on the board at any game I have gone to. I have always wondered whether it was an MLB policy or a Royals policy, and it always irritated me to not be able see the play for myself on this giant HD screen. I find it ironic that a replay of the type they have steadfastly refused to show in the past led directly to a key loss.

  11. Phaedrus says:

    I hate replay. One of the (many) reasons that I hardly ever watch football anymore. Sports are supposed to be a fun diversion from everyday life…not a life or death struggle where every call has to be correct. Watching the same replay 20 times in a row, hearing announcers debate whether a “football move” was made, and waiting 5 minutes to get a call is not fun to me.

    I hope replay doesn’t ruin baseball too. I can see a day 5 years from now when managers are asking for a review of a called 3rd strike.

    Sounds like I need to move to England.

    • 18thstreet says:

      Agree, except for the move-to-England part.

      Every time I hear an announcer say — and they say it often — “the important thing is, they get the call right,” I think, “No, the important thing is, I be entertained.” It’s not life and death. It’s entertainment. Too many wrong calls will absolutely harm my enjoyment of a game, but the occasional wrong call will not.

      • invitro says:

        You’re actually factually wrong. The umpire’s job is absolutely not to entertain you; it’s to get the call correct.

        • 18thstreet says:

          The LEAGUE’S job is to entertain me. That’s why I watch sports. Entertainment.

          • invitro says:

            You’re factually wrong again. The league’s job is not to entertain YOU. It’s to entertain everyone. And there are many more people whose entertainment is damaged by bad calls, than there are people like you (who apparently is having his entertainment ruined by imagining an impossible future?).

  12. Carl says:

    Yo Joe,

    Do you feel the encroachment of replay as an American institution is due to American gambling? With millions on every game, a bad call can lead to paying fans believing too easily that an umpire/ref was bought, thereby leading to less interest in the game?

    • Adam S says:

      I’m not Joe but I think the main impetus for more and more replay is social media and DVRs. Used to be we’d see a bad call and think the ump missed it. Maybe we’d get a good replay on TV. Now we can go back and watch the plays ourselves, though most broadcasts have caught up and do so.

      And we can get online and complain to MLB/NFL, the team’s Facebook page, @ them on Twitter, as well as to the broadcasters and press. It’s fundamentally embarrassing when everyone at home knows it’s a blown call within 30 seconds and “they” can’t correct it.

      At times replay is annoying. Every review where a player catches a pass going to the ground feels like a wild guess. But I’ve LOVED baseball replay this year. I’ve seen so many egregiously wrong calls corrected it feels like a huge win to me, and that’s in the small portion of games I’ve watched.

      • Well, the safe out tag is annoying. We used to accept, with little complaint, that if the ball was there early enough and the tag was reasonably attempted, and the tag was near the foot the call would be out. Even with replay now, those calls are ridiculously hard to determine. I’m OK with foregoing replay on those. Fair/foul, HR/No HR and force plays are usually more clear cut. In most cases, the ump shouldn’t miss those calls. But if they pull a Denkinger, I want the call corrected.

    • Ed says:

      I highly doubt that gambling is a factor — gambling is more widespread in England than it is here. You can walk into little shops on the corner and place bets on just about anything in England.

  13. Gil Ceder says:

    I love replay. It’s a necessary evil in sports where 20 yr old supermen are being watched by 50 year old men. They can’t keep up.
    The game is A vs B. playing by a set of rules . Refs/umpires enforce the rules. Not their opinions of the rules.
    I want to see replay taken many steps further..

    Baseball:Visual strike zone with sensors. We already have pitchtrack on TV why not in real life? An ump’s call on one pitch can change the entire at bat. Fastball on the black to Cabrera 2-2 or 3-1…. all up to the ump.

    Football: Teams have a neon orange flag. If the sidelines/booth see ANY infraction they can throw the flag and the refs “upstairs” take a look The teams must indicate the infraction and the # of the offending player( holding on # 73) if the team is wrong a “delay” penalty will be called and a 10 yard penalty will be assessed. They can also challenge penalties the same way….. Your LB gets called for a facemask penalty but actually just had the front collar, throw the flag.
    This policing themselves policy is just like we all did growing up in the back yard. (except for do-overs)
    You can’t complain about missed calls if YOU miss it too.

    I know people will complain about the longer games. If you don’t want the penalty, commit the penalty. Clean up the games. They will go faster.

  14. Bodl says:

    Cathead, your #3 point above is not correct. The Tigers did correctly appeal the play. Max set and threw to 3rd. The Fox announcers just missed it. When Perez was called safe, Ausmus appealed the play. He specifically told Vanover he not appealing the timing of the tag up (which requires two synch’d cameras and thus is not reviewable), but rather as a missed base appeal, which is reviewable.

    NY blew the call by interpreting the appeal as a tag up call. Vanover may have relayed the appeal incorrectly, but in any case, the call was clearly reviewable under rule 7.10.

  15. NevadaMark says:

    Even with all that appeal stuff, the Royals had a great chance to win. Of course, using Raul Ibanez as a pinch hitter in crucial situation was quite baffling. Aren’t .160 hitters the guys you pinch hit FOR?

  16. doncoffin64 says:

    I rather suspect that if the action in baseball or football (or even basketball–where, you will note, replays are not yet used) were continuous, fans in America would be less accepting of replays. It’s one thing to use a “natural” pause in the action to review a play/call. It’s an entirely different thing to *stop* to the action.

  17. I think replay has gone too far. It should be used to correct egregious errors, not something that is so close the naked eye could never tell the difference. A 15 second review should be the max, with the assumption that the umpire was right. If you can’t tell at a glance that an error was made, it’s close enough to trust the professionals.

    • Bono says:

      According to this methodology this whole situation would still have occurred. Anyway, you can’t organize replay rules around “egregious errors” because you would need to have some way of determining what’s egregious. The rules are, instead, organized around types of plays, which makes them very clear cut, but doesn’t take into account the “degree”.

      Baseball, I think, has so far changed very little due to replay. There are important plays on which we find ourselves waiting for a call but it’s hardly every one. How many times have we seen managers go out, get the thumbs down from their video people, and return to the dugout, even if it’s late in a close game and seems to be a decisive call? A minute or two out of every game and not having to agonize over a clearly incorrect call seems like a good trade-off to me.

  18. Greg Finley says:

    Bodl, how could Ausmus have been appealing anything other than the tag? Just because he said he was appealing a “missed base” doesn’t make it so. Was Perez called out because he missed the bag? He had already tagged it once. The umpires were imbeciles and allowed the Tigers a second appeal to the same base-something not allowed under 7.10. They violated their own rules for appeals and instant replay, both of which should carry the same validity as the tag up on fly ball rule itself. Good job by Ausmus for trying. Bad job by umps for allowing him to tell them what to do….

  19. A lot of the “nonsense” was caused by the Fox broadcasters, who kept saying repeatedly that Detroit never appealed to 3rd and that the Royals should protest the game. They eventually did show the appeal, but only after at least 20 minutes of hammering the narrative that it didn’t happen.

    Let’s be honest, though. It’s completely obvious from watching that the umps made the call from the scoreboard replay. They huddled up initially and had no ruling, so nobody saw the play. Then the crew chief went back to talk to Asusmus. Then they went to the headsets. And from there you can clearly see the two umps with headsets staring right at the scoreboard. The camera angle is right in front of their faces showing them looking up at it. It’s clear as day. And when they huddled up again, lo and behold they suddenly had a ruling.

    Obviously the correct call was made. But they’re not supposed to make the ruling off the replay. They are outright lying by saying they didn’t. So between two scenarios of “Oops, the Tigers didn’t appeal to 3rd” and “the umpires blatantly broke a rule and then lied about it”, somehow it’s the former example that’s more egregious. That would be grounds for protesting the game, but not the umps did. That seems somewhat backwards.

    • maguro says:

      “But they’re not supposed to make the ruling off the replay.”

      Is there anything in the rules that prohibits the umps from looking at the Jumbotron replay to gain more information about a play while they huddle up to make a decision? There are definitely restrictions on what kind of plays New York can review, but where is it written down that the umps aren’t allowed to use the stadium replay to make a call?

      • It’s prohibited by MLB saying the call wasn’t reviewable. It means they can’t look at a replay to see if they got it wrong. Which was exactly what they did.

        Even better, there’s a rule that specifically states that on a non-reviewable play, if a player or manager tells the ump they saw a replay and the call was wrong, they can be immediately ejected.

        But an ump can break the non-reviewable rule and lie about it with no consequences.

  20. Dave B says:

    I’ve found that instant replay, whichi n theory sounds great, does suck some of the fun out of watching the game for me. The delays (NFL and MLB) are interminable, such that I always either switch the channel or hit the mute button and read a book. I was watching this game, and supporting KC, and so I was a bit annoyed at all this, but really, it was pretty clearly the right call, eventually, so I do have mixed feelings about this situation. I’m only shocked that KC seemed OK with the reversal. Yost should have been kicking dirt on the umpire over this, not because the umps got it wrong (which they didn’t) but because it’s his job to fight tooth and nail for his team, even on a technicality, especially in their biggest game of the year. The Royals lost the AL Central on Saturday.

  21. I hate replay. It’s truly awful. I used to genuinely enjoy watching NFL games. Now I find them barely watchable unless it’s a game for which I really care about the outcome. Even then, sometimes I DVR the first half and start watching at half time — fast forwarding through the tedium that makes up 90% of every NFL broadcast.

    And it’s almost as bad in baseball. Just what baseball needed — more delays. The game was just getting too damn fast.

  22. AaronB4Mizzou says:

    I too, hate replay. I can’t stand it. It kills the flow of the game, it’s just not worth it. I don’t want it in baseball, I don’t want it in football, I don’t want it anywhere. I guess my British roots are showing because I’ve always thought officiating was part of the game. Sometimes no one has an issue with the officiating, sometimes we argue or complain about calls that happened 30 years ago. See Denkinger, Don. Despite being on the losing side in ’85, I wouldn’t change anything.

    It seems to me that we have replay in all sports now to correct those rare instances where a call could actually impact a game. Has anyone done a study to see how many calls actually change the outcome of a game? It’s got to be an insignificant amount. Even with replay, what percentage of calls are actually reversed? It’s got to be less than 1/3. Anyway, it’s just not worth the headaches to me. Officiating is what is. Most calls are right, very few are wrong, but I can live with it.

  23. Up2Drew says:

    I like to boil things down to basics:

    1. Replays, though intrusive, contribute to the accuracy of each call. Is that not a noble goal? Should we not use conputers to check the calculations in bridge building or vehicle design? Or should we just accept “the human element” in the collapses and resultant damages of flawed designs?

    2. Every sport, to every extent possible, should strive to limit the amount of discretion officiating bears on the outcome of a game. Football and basketball games are routinely decided not by tw play on the field, but by the call of the official.

    Give me electronic strike zones and replays, thanks.

  24. Bob says:

    I’m so tired of people referring to the Denkinger call when discussing bad officiating. Yes, he blew the call. But the Cardinals had several chances to win that game. Give it up already. I’d much rather hear people refer to the Jim Joyce blown call. It’s so much fresher.

    As to replay, I hate it, and I always have.

    Now, get off my lawn!

  25. MikeN says:

    Against replay, but it would have denied the Yankees their World Series in Derek Jeter’s ‘Shoulda been MVP’ season.

  26. MikeN says:

    Was there really even a clamor for replay in baseball? In the NFL, you had the issue of Harbaugh almost taking his team to the SuperBowl with a missed call, and the referees handing the Patriots a game with a series of missed calls, and then botching an overtime coin flip.

  27. sbmcmanus says:

    Another reason for the difference in views on soccer (English or otherwise) vs. American football is that many of the most important rules in soccer are very subjective. If you read the rules on offside restrictions and fouls, you will find words like “in the opinion of the referee” and “considered by the referee”. There is a lot of flexibility in the soccer referee’s decision making under the rules, which severely undermines the idea of replay. A HD replay from 10 different angles won’t tell you anything about the opinion of the referee. This is true of soccer in the whole wide world as well, not sure it has much or anything at all to do with the disposition of the English as a whole.

  28. Mark Daniel says:

    All this replay talk has overshadowed the fact that Nori Aoki was 13-for-16 in the previous four games, and Ned Yost had him sac bunt the first TWO times to the plate in the next game, once with a man on 2nd and nobody out, and once with men on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. The Royals failed to score in either inning.

    That is incredible managerial strategy, and yet nobody seems to have noticed.

  29. I don’t like replay and I don’t feel the time spent reviewing is worth the proper call. A overwhelmingly huge amount of the time umps get it right. What we need is a better system of evaluating umpires and perhaps appeals that lead to discussion amongst all the umps and overruling if necessary. The only exception may be the playoffs where a blown call can swing a short series.

  30. Jeff H. says:

    The umpires get the obvious calls correct an overwhelmingly huge amount of time. On plays that are review, as noted earler, the call is reversed 47% of the time.

  31. Mark Daniel says:

    I think replay in the NFL and MLB would be greatly improved if it was automatic and immediately done by someone “upstairs”. We as fans see the replay seconds after the play ends, often with a clear result. But it takes the officials 5 or 10 minutes to figure it all out. Can’t the head official carry a cell phone and have some replay guy watching the video text him something like, “he was safe” as soon as he sees the replay?

  32. Cookie Monster says:

    The preface of the Laws of chess has a nice words that should be the guide for all sports: “Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding a solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors.”

  33. Dave says:

    This is not pertinent for this discussion but is to an earlier one. FYI–Jared Hughes for the Pirates this evening threw 3 pitches, got three outs, while allowing a hit–double play ensued.

  34. Alejo says:

    I am not religious, therefore I don´t care about all the theological arguments you make here about this missed call.

    However, I do take offence on the fact that you pay so much attention to the Premier League, a devalued tournament that can´t even put a team on the Champions League semi-finals, and blatantly ignore the Spanish League (or “Liga”) which shows by far the best football on the planet.

    I know, you sort of speak the same language, Americans and Brits, but man, if you go for quality, you have to go to Spain.

    Not to mention, the fantastic food, the great weather and the general Mediterranean well-being.

  35. TWolf says:

    I was once against expanded replay, but on balance, it has worked OK. It can be tweaked in the future so it can be administered more quickly. It seems that most of the calls reviewed are bang-bang calls that could go either way. In the past players probably would not have complained that much because they could explain away incorrect calls by saying “that’s baseball”.

    I am glad to hear the statistic that 47 percent of reviewed calls are reversed. I always heard defenders of umpires say they were right 95 percent of the time. I knew that this was ridiculous because I always saw at least one wrong call on the bases when I watched games on television. The figure 95 percent would be correct only if one includes routine plays in the calculation.

    I would suggest that subjective calls, such as interference and obstruction, not be reviewable at all. For example, on plays at the plate, there can be vast differences in opinion among presumed experts as to whether a catcher allowed a base runner an adequate path to the plate.

    I am not a big soccer fan, but based on the fluid nature of the game, relay can be realistically used in limited circumstances, i.e. (1) to determine whether a goal as been scored
    and (2) to allow a goal when the official has incorrectly denied one because of the off-sides rule.

    One comment above states that replay is not used in the NBA. That is not correct. It is being used in some circumstances such as determining whether a shot was made behind the three point line or before the clock expires at the end of 24 seconds or at the end of a period.
    I believe it is also used during the last two minutes of a game for some purposes.

  36. Tony says:

    While soccer doesn’t allow in-game replays, almost every other sport (incl rugby and cricket, 2 very popular sports in GB) does. This doesn’t make soccer right, or even representative of the fan’s wishes ; it just means that soccer is behind the times. Look no further than tennis to see how much IR has improved the quality of the refereeing.

    The problem with the big 4 American sports is that they refuse to speed up the process bu having an extra referee for reviewable plays and then allowing him to make the call. 90% of the reviews are cut and dried after watching 1 or 2 replays. The decisions should be made in seconds (as they are in rugby and tennis), not minutes.

  37. John Wood says:


    Good article on Burnley. Things are looking better since Sunderland. Moving on up

    P GD PTS
    14 West Brom 21 -9 21
    15 Crystal Palace 21 -9 20
    16 Sunderland 21 -13 20
    17 Burnley 21 -14 20
    18 Hull 21 -7 19
    19 QPR 21 -14 19
    20 Leicester 21 -13 17

  38. […] and significant doubts about whether the correct call was made. And as Posnanski himself documented, our attempts to get the call right can often impede that very […]

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