By In Stuff

Upon Further Review

Does anyone really want to read a screed about instant replay? No, probably not, but watching cleanly stolen bases taken away after the foot disconnects with the bag for a millisecond and watching a football catch called incomplete based on a replay being scoured for evidence like it’s the Zapruder film continues to break my spirit.

Upon Further Review

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63 Responses to Upon Further Review

  1. thoughtclaw says:

    Joe, you’re one of my all-time favorite writers in any genre, but I could not possibly disagree more strongly with you in this case. If the guy comes off the bag for a millisecond and is tagged, he’s out. That’s the way it is and the way it should be.

    • Simon says:

      Hold on. We went to the slow motion x ray camera, and during that ms he was off the bag, the momentum of the motion path caused the ball to come off one side of the glove pocket and float towards the other side. How can you say the fielder had control of the ball when neither he or his glove was actually touching the ball? Is he safe now?

      At some point it will be all technicalities and that will be too bad.

      I’m a Jays fan but I hated that call on Rios. I’ve been saying to bored friends for weeks that the “off the base for a split second” call should not be reviewable at slow speed. If it’s obvious enough to see at real speed, cool.

    • jroth95 says:

      So they played baseball wrong the first 200 years? That’s your contention? Everybody was just wrong about how to play the game, because they lacked super slo-mo?

      • No one said that? Baseball could get calls right to a certain degree before replay. Now with replay, that degree has been refined. It’s not a matter of “right” or “wrong”, but whether or not utilizing the ability see the difference in those milliseconds enhances or detracts from one’s enjoyment of the game. I am firmly in the former camp, perhaps because I am younger and have known replay at least in football for most of my life. But replay simply doesn’t detract from the experience for me. It obviously does for Joe, because he writes this exact article every few months.

      • thoughtclaw says:

        Holy crap! When did I say that? If you support changing anything about baseball, that means you think it was played wrong before? Wow.

    • Doug says:

      It’s a game – for entertainment purposes only. We’re not trying to return astronauts from outer space during these games. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I do not find the current process of using instant replay more entertaining that what was the practice previously.

  2. buddaley says:

    You are not the only one Joe. I have somewhat different reasons for hating much about replays, although I agree with your objection, but I also don’t think the main object is to be absolutely certain that the call is perfectly right in some scientific sense. If that is the ultimate object, it stops being a game.

  3. AaronB says:

    I hate reply…there, I said it, I really hate it. if you’re going to have it in baseball, use it strictly for plays like this: HR’s, plays at 1st, plays at home, & maybe on trapped balls/catches. Those are all reasonably clear cut type of plays that are/can be significant.

    Steals – no way. I’m even starting to see it in little league games. Kid steals a base and the SS literally holds the glove on the kid who slid into the bag for what seems to be an eternity, just for that chance that the kid momentarily came off the bag or that the kid forgets to ask for time standing up. I’ve seen a few kids get called out – which was the right call, but is it really when considering the spirit of the play?

    The can of worms to me is the old neighborhood play at 2B, which considering the two recent significant injuries we’ve seen in the last month, takes on even more importance. There’s a reason umps have allowed that play to stand forever: it protects the player from getting seriously injured on a takeout slide. If you called the play by the letter of the law, then nearly ever player running into 2B on a double play grounder is actually safe.

    Anyway, I’m not a fan, and yes, it messes with the flow of the game. I’ve always hated the argument, “we just want to get the call right.” Human error is part of the game, accept that. Believe me, I was on the wrong end of 1985’s Game 6, and I’m ok with that. Why? Because if Jack Clark had just caught that foul popup, the Cards probably would have won the game. The call at first didn’t lose them the game, what happened after that did.

    I’ll stop rambling now…Joe, condolences to you and Ken’s family, may he RIP.

    • richclayton3 says:

      There is nothing new at all in little leaguers holding the tag on a stolen base. Its what I was taught 30 years ago, and its what I’ve always taught kids I coach. I find it frankly kind of amazing that you think this is somehow a result of instant replay. Its not. Its a result of knowing how to play baseball.

  4. Skip Fischer says:

    You are absolutely right, Joe. And dare I say it–your rational is also spot on! Limited replay makes sense in all sports, but that’s not what its use has evolved (or devolved) into today. And it certainly is no longer “instant”!!!

    • I agree with this. But, they need to keep evolving it, not do away with it. The annoying parts can be fixed. Example: In football the Dez Bryant play. Which also just happened to Devonta Freeman a couple of weeks ago. Make the catch, take two steps, lunge for the goal line, cross the plane, hit the end zone & then the ball comes free. I don’t know when they decided this was not a catch, but nobody has ever said that this isn’t a catch, except apparently for the latest interpretation of what a catch is. That can be fixed. Anything that doesn’t make sense to anyone needs to be fixed.
      To me, just because instant replay has some annoying, unintended consequences, doesn’t mean that you can’t seek to address most of them. A couple of things come to mind. First, they allow too many challenges in baseball. So they can just be thrown out there to see if it sticks. In football, that costs you a timeout if you’re wrong. In baseball, there are really no consequences unless you’re down to your last challenge. But ultimately, they should look at tennis. They need to evolve to where a challenge literally takes 10 seconds. It’s been great in tennis. All the calls are right (and the officials get an amazing amount of them right anyway) and it doesn’t take long to get to a right call. The result is inarguable. I realize there are more variables than in/out has in tennis. But fair ball/foul ball and in/out of bounds are pretty much the same call. Point is, they have some work to do. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just make it better.

  5. There was one play that crystalized the need, in my mind for replay in baseball. In the playoffs a few years ago, Brian McCann hit a long fly fall to right field at Turner Field. Turner Field has an auxillary scoreboard in the rightfield fence that creates a shelf just over the fence. It’s quite common for a HR to go over the fence, hit the top of the scoreboard (clank!) bounce off the back wall in front of the spectators (there’s about three feet between the outfield fence and the wall in front of the crowd). If you’ve seen a few games, it sounds like “Clank! (bouncing on top of the scoreboard), Thump! (hitting the back wall). You can hear this clearly throughout the stadium.

    So, anyway, McCann hits that ball. Clank! Thump! The rightfield umpire, who btw, is not only just there because it’s the playoffs, but he’s RIGHT there. Less than 30 feet away. Misses the call. Calls it in play. Why? Because this umpire usually didn’t call East Coast games during the regular season. He didn’t know about Clank, Thump.

    This was in the 8th or 9th inning, I forget which & was a potential game winner. In the playoffs. You can’t miss that call. Fortunately, it got reversed. It may have even been pre-replay and another umpire, familiar with the stadium helped reverse it. But the point is, you get one umpire who’s out to lunch (i.e. Denkinger) and it can change the game. Change the series. Determine champions. That doesn’t work for me. You’ve got to get the call right. I’ll take the odd, annoying out call on a steal as a consequence. I agree, however, that those rabbit hole calls are annoying. I can live with it, though.

  6. Carl Berndash Omniart says:

    I agree with you, Joe, and I like your solution of viewing replays in real-time.

  7. Matt D says:

    I agree 100% that replay sucks joy from sports and from baseball. But Joe’s solution of viewing replays in real-time might be the worst compromise. The problem: we, the viewers, *do* get the benefit of slow motion. So the “get the call right” camp will still be incensed as they can clearly see the call was still wrong on some plays, and the “flow of the game” folks will still have the momentum and flow of the game interrupted.

    Alternate proposal: no challenges. The replay booth initiates all reviews, and they have until the next play to overturn (or even a set time, like 45 seconds). So egregious calls will still be changed, but calls that require a 10,000 fps camera can be ignored. If it’s a set time, the managers can’t intentionally delay the game to give them time.

    The problem is that MLB will have to pay for an extra official each game, and there’s no sign they’re willing to spend the measly $3M or so to do that.

    • rfaronson says:

      Matt D. hits the nail on the head with why we need replay. If I’m watching a game at home, and the ump blows a call, and I see the ump blow the call on television, I’m angry. Most of the time players know the call was wrong and signal for the replay. The most important thing is to get the calls right. If my team loses a game on a replay, I can feel “we were soooo close to winning” and fell good about the game, but if my team loses a game on a blown call, I stop watching baseball until I’m over it.

      • VTmike says:

        I love sports. Love to play, love to watch, have my whole life. But maybe “I see the ump blow the call on TV, and I’m angry” is the problem. What I’m advocating here is a reduction in sports fanaticism. I know 95% of people will blow it off as naivete. But really, if you are watching sports and you are angry–not disappointed, not annoyed, but ANGRY–you are doing it wrong. Sports are entertainment. Take it for what it is, remove the idea of “deserve”. Tinker with the replay rules if you want, but in my mind, the real change needs to happen in the mind of the fan.

  8. rfaronson says:

    I’ll give you the “hop” on a slide into a base. If you leave your ankle down on the ground, you risk breaking it. They used to have bases that left their position with the runner just for this kind of situation, IIRC. So replay rules need some fine tuning. On the other hand, on close force plays, not only do you need to slow the play down to get it right, but usually you need a still photo of ball touching glove (or not), fielder’s foot on base, runner’s foot on base (or not) to determine truth. Similarly on some fair or foul, in the park or not calls, slow motion is valuable if not essential.

    So I say change the rule. If a runner overslides the base, coming off it, he’s out. If a runner stays above the base within close proximity, and always has part of his body in close proximity to and directly above the base, he’s safe. But I do NOT want to lose instant replay. Has ARod taught you nothing?

    • DAW says:

      Rfaronson, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head here. If you don’t like the way replay exposes certain flaws in the rules, change the rules. But that’s not a good reason to throw out replay.

      I love Joe’s writing, but his screeds against replay are tiring and illogical. He’s wrong. Look, *every* call in sports often comes down to a borderline decision. On a play at first base, did the ball arrive before the runner? On a tennis shot, did it hit the line or not? These are often very close and very critical. In the end, we want them to be right.

      And don’t tell me we only want them to be right in real time. We want them to be *right*! If a baseball game comes down to a critical call at first base, say, and the slow motion replay makes it clear the runner is out but the fast motion is not so clear, do you think anyone unbiased is going to be happy if we go with the original “safe” call? In tennis, if the ball barely hits the line but was called out originally and then is challenged by the player, do you think he or she will accept the explanation of “Sure, it was in, but we couldn’t be sure in fast motion so the out call stands.”

      No. Way. We want it to be right, competitors want it to be right and the game is better if it’s right. Tennis is a great example. Joe frequently writes about the old days of tennis. I’m older than him; I remember too. Was it a pleasure watching McEnroe screaming at the umpire for ten minutes? No. No it was not. It was terrible. And it wasn’t just McEnroe and Connors — big tennis matches were frequently interrupted by long breaks where even a mild-mannered competitor would have a long discussion with the umpire after a call he or she thought was clearly wrong. That’s all gone now, and replay is why. You hate the call, you make the challenge, and we get the call right.

      The Denkinger call was another great example, and it shouldn’t be soft-pedaled by the anti-replay crowd. It was a blot on baseball, and I was rooting for the Royals that year. The game 7 fiasco was a direct result of the fact that St Louis felt they had been robbed in game 6. Now, if we’d had replay, it would have been very simple: they’d have gotten it right and the game would have moved on. Maybe KC still comes back, and that would have been great. But let’s not allow our nostalgia for that fantastic postseason blind us to the fact that that incident was not good for baseball in any way.

      I think replay, and also the strike zone monitoring that goes on now, is making umpires sharper. I’m hoping that the days of someone like Eric Gregg blatantly affecting the outcome of a game with a ridiculous strike zone are gone. You can tell me that things were better then, and simpler, but I was there. They may have been simpler, but I remember the arguments over play calls, and the disgust when an umpire seemed to decide to take the game into his own hands. Games were stopped for minutes while grown men screamed and kicked dirt on each other. Ah, those were the days, right?

      Baseball should use incidents like the ones Joe cites to refine the rules. That’s the logical result of using replay, to refine the rules so that things make more sense. But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, and don’t downplay the past’s mistakes. We were NOT satisfied then.

      • Fantastic reply. I love Joe, but I find his insistence against replay to reek of romanticizing the past while blatantly ignoring the benefits. Tennis is a great example. Is replay perfect? No. But it’s absurd to argue that everyone was just happier living in an ignorant bliss of accepting an official’s call.

  9. TWolf says:

    I was originally against the adoption of replay, but on balance, despite the unintended consequences described above, it has worked reasonably well. However, as Joe relates, replay has gone well beyond what was intended. It was intended to correct the truly awful calls that occasionally arose in high profile games (Denkinger, Jim Joyce etc.). It seems as though most reversals are on bang-bang plays that before the adoption of replay would be accepted by most players as “that’s baseball”.

    This presents an eternal question. Do we want absolute justice or is rough justice good enough? Since replay has been adopted as the search for absolute justice, I do not believe it is practically possible to limit replay to those calls that are the most egregious and fail to review and reverse those calls that appear to be just a little bit wrong.

  10. Bob Waddell says:

    The biggest problem with Replays isn’t the fact they’re doing it, but the amount of time it takes. I watched the Michigan – MSU football game Saturday and from start to finish it was almost 4 hours!!!?!? I think the simplest solution is to have strict time limits – a maximum of 1 minute, although I think 45 seconds for 98% of replays is plenty – and if it is inconclusive, then it’s inconclusive. Sitting at home, how many times do you see the definitive image that ID’s the correct call from the first or second angle? My guess is well above 90%, we only see what the TV feeds us, and WE usually can see that in under a minute. They already have a ref running the clock, pay him/her another $50 a game to run two.

    • Mark Daniel says:

      Agree. In the MSU-Michigan game, Michigan had 1st and goal and on three consecutive plays they had to review – 1st and goal, 2nd and goal, 3rd and goal. It was called a TD on the field each time, but was overturned the 1st two times. On 3rd down, the interminable review was inconclusive and the TD stood. I sort of thought the guy was stopped, but who knows?
      Anyway, 3 plays and it took 10 full minutes in real time.

  11. Himself says:

    My system would be: 1. Panel of three reviewers. 2. They can look at the play from each camera angle, but only ONCE at real speed and ONCE in slow motion. 3. The call on the field is reversed only if ALL of them agree it was clearly erroneous. If they are not unanimous, the call stands.

  12. Søren says:

    You are not alone, I am here with you, though you far away…from the popular opinion. For all the reasons you mentioned in your, as always, lovely piece and another reason that’s sort of about the same thing too.
    When dealing with decisions that require super slow-mo, high fps and so on, it often comes down to millimeters (I’m European and “it’s a matter of inches” don’t really cover these calls anymore) or splitseconds anyway and then it’s typically outside of human control.
    I mostly watch soccer and the obvious example is the new goal-line tech. Now I’m not against it, it has been implemented well and when in effect, it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game because there’s a natural stoppage anyway (goal scored).
    BUT I don’t think it has solved a great injustice either, because at margins that small no one is good enough to control exatly what happens. It’s not like when the great strikers hit the inside of the post it always goes in, and when the mediocre ones do it glides across the goal-line. The announcers don’t go “yeah he should have angled it 0.1 degree more to the left and taken the wind into account and it would have gone in”, they will, almost invariably, say “unlucky”.
    And to me that’s what it is for all intents and purposes and whatever we want to call it: luck, randomness, micro-fluctuations in the quantummechanic field (sabermatrician). The referees decision is just another mostly random variable on top of that.
    I think the big difference here is that it’s a human making the call and not the universe so to speak. That’s why there’s such a sense of injustice.
    I guess if we got a little philosophical about it, I don’t particularly care about justice in sports and the idea that sports represent a meritocracy is pretty flawed, but it is attractive to a lot of people I think, particularly if you a big fan of a certain team. Which i’m not and you’re not either so that might explain some of it.

  13. agmonaco says:

    If Marty McFly had decided to attend an MLB game on October 21, 2015, what would he have seen?

    He wouldn’t have seen four lumbering men in black gathering around a suitcase-phone and wearing giant headsets while they wait five minutes for some guy in New York to look at a replay.

    But he also, certainly, wouldn’t have seen blatantly incorrect calls stand. No, a person looking ahead to 2015 from decades ago would have reasonably assumed that our technology would have advanced sufficiently to the point where we can ensure that bad calls are corrected without substantially interfering with the flow of play or the “spirit of the game.”

    The fact is, Denkinger-style/Joyce-style blown calls are the ultimate affront to the “spirit of the game.” If we have the means to correct those injustices, we have to do so. The spirit of the game demands it.

    The problem is not that we are seeking to correct umpires’ mistakes; it’s that we are doing it with technology that wouldn’t look out of place in Doc Brown’s lab circa 1985.

  14. KM says:

    Change the rule to say that once you touch the base, you are still “on the base” as long as you are directly above it. So if a guy slides past it he is out but if he pops up and remains on a straight line up from the base he is safe. I think it would only affect this type of play and then people wouldn’t challenge it.

  15. Marc Schneider says:

    In tennis, they have the challenge system that allows players to challenge calls; in many cases, the ball is in or out by literally a fraction of an inch. I almost feel that, at that point, it doesn’t matter whether the call is right or wrong because it’s largely random. If a ball is out by a tiny fraction and it’s called in, live with it. I agree with other commenters that the goal of replay should be to correct blatantly wrong calls, not to correct every call that is wrong a microfraction.

    • The thing is, even replay detractors tend to concede that tennis has the best replay system, because it is almost instant. Can you imagine if tennis switched to a “naked eye at full speed” replay system that Joe proposes? I doubt anyone would prefer that. It would be more time consuming, and lead to more McEnroe-style delays of game as player contested calls and get frustrated.

      The problem really isn’t replay. It’s the time replay takes with umpires pouring over slo-mo over and over again. Tennis has the ability to make immediate replay calls. It’s time for other sports to get on that.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        The problem with that, though, is that a replay in tennis involves a single and very specific issue-whether the ball is in or out. It doesn’t matter what the player is doing and you aren’t watching multiple things. It’s a relatively simple thing to see. Baseball and other sports involve a host of movements and decisions-is the fielder on the bag and did he hold onto the ball, did he tag the runner or miss him; did the receiver hold the ball before going out of bounds. It’s simply much easier to do replay in tennis which is why it takes much less time. I don’t know how you adapt that to other sports.

  16. Nick says:

    Adding the review/replay minimizes the humanity of the game. The players are human. The umpires are human. We all make mistakes. What builds character is how we react to those mistakes. Do we cry and throw tantrums or do we move on accepting the unfairness of life and rip a clean triple next time up (or in my case strike out swinging)…….

    • Dan says:

      There is humanity in the game when I’m playing baseball with my kids, we’re all using ghost runners, and swinging at pitches three feet out of the strike zone so it’s not all walks. MLB players are professionals doing a job, and doing it very well, and depending for their professional success on the ability of others to make calls correctly. There is no humanity in the game in getting struck out on a pitch 4 inches off the plate, that’s just a blown call.

      We all make mistakes, but that’s no reason to not try to correct them where reasonably possible. “Sorry, kid, we lost the game because the ump wrongly called the guy safe, and we have technology that would make it possible to get it RIGHT but we refuse to use it so that we can build your character.” Umm, no thanks.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Not only that but if players make too many mistakes, they lose their jobs. I doubt anyone is saying about Elvis Andrus, “well, he is human and we all make mistakes.” He may not lose his job but other players might. Managers lose their jobs potentially because of a blown call. In 1997, the Braves lost a playoff game and-who knows-maybe a championship because the umpire’s strike zone covered from there to Oshkosh. I sort of agree with Nick about people taking this stuff too seriously. Braves fans have been complaining for years about Eric Gregg’s strike zone in a baseball game and taking shots at Gregg, who has been dead for years. I say-as a pretty fanatic Braves fan for years-chill out. Be that as it may, pro sports is not just recreation; jobs and livelihoods are on the line.

  17. danaking says:

    My enthusiasm for reply is waning. I’d change two things, one specific to baseball:
    1. Since convincing evidence is supposed to be the standard for overturning a call, the replay officials get no more than one minute to view replays. Extended period of time splitting hairs is not, by definition, “clear and convincing evidence.”
    2. (Baseball specific) Managers can’t hold up the game waiting for someone in the clubhouse to view a reply to see if a challenge is merited. Get on the field RIGHT NOW and challenge,. Or don’t.

  18. Phaedrus says:

    Replay sucks. I’ve stopped watching football because it takes itself WAY too seriously (people waste time debating what constitutes a “football move”…really??). I hope I don’t have to stop watching baseball too.

    People seem to forget that these are just GAMES. It’s not life or death, no matter how much the players are paid or how much your ticket cost. Everyone can accept that it’s ok for the pitcher to mess up, it’s ok for the kicker to mess up, and it’s ok for the quarterback to mess up. Why isn’t it ok for the referee/umpire to mess up?

    What next…are golfers going to get to play the ball “up” because it’s not fair when one player’s ball ends up in a divot in the middle of the fairway and his opponent gets a great lie in the rough?

    If you’re over the age of 10 and you get truly upset because a call went against your team, then I think it’s time to reexamine your life.

  19. Donald A. Coffin says:

    Actually, I agree (as have others above). If we can’t tell by viewing in “real time” (“real speed”) that the official got the call wrong, then the call stands. (I will say that, even seeing the ultra-slow-motion replays of the stolen-base calls, I still couldn’t see that the ump was clearly wrong.)

  20. Dr. Baseball says:

    JOE –

    I am with you 100%.

    If we have to have reply, do it in real time.

    Great idea.

    This is why you are the best!

    (If you are the only one…I’m right there with you.)

  21. wogggs says:

    Something should be done about the split second off the bag play on a play at a base (whether it’s a steal, or getting back to first on a pickoff attempt, or just an ordinary non-force play). Perhaps the rule should be that if the runner touches the bag before being tagged he is safe. If his momentum momentarily takes him off the bag, he is still safe. If he overslides and loses contact with the bag and is then tagged, he is out.

  22. Mark Daniel says:

    Instant replay should be like DVR recordings. The MLB should have people reviewing every play at all times, and then if a review is called for, they can respond immediately. To speed things up, the umps can carry these new pocket-sized high tech devices that they have these days, called iPhones, and they can just use those with the help another futuristic technology called texting to receive immediate transmissions from the replay team.

  23. murr2825 says:

    It’s amazing how accurate most close play calls are. Overall, the umps do a fantastic job. (Limiting my comments to baseball, the only sport that matters)
    The vast majority of replay calls get it right; if the original call is too close to overturn, Let it stand. I think replay is well worth the time it takes for that reason.
    There’s no reason for dramatic changes in how replays are implemented. I do think that when a runner’s momentum lifts him off the bag for a split second, the spirit of the play should rule.
    A bigger problem baseball (and all sports) has is being in bed with FanDuel and DraftKings. Keep them legal, I suppose (a fool and his money..) but they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise during sporting events.

  24. Marco says:

    For me the litmus test is: Will (or did) adding replay add to my enjoyment of the game?

  25. Mark Daniel says:

    One thing about baseball replay, it can make the game shorter because sometimes the ruling on the field is changed from safe to out.

    • Matt D says:

      or longer, because the ruling on the field is changed from out to safe. If they even out, it still makes the game longer due to the review itself.

      • Karyn says:

        Unless that’s balanced by the reduction in time spent by players and managers arguing with the umps.

        • NevadaMark says:

          I’ve hardly heard it mentioned, but it appears to my eye test that umpire-manager arguments are DRAMATICALLY down. And that is a great thing.

  26. Anon says:

    It has occurred to me that more and more it feels like people ware watching and cheering court proceedings rather than games. Kind of a funny image . . . .

  27. Great piece. I agree with you wholeheartedly Joe. I don’t like replay either. The drawbacks to “getting the call right” far outweigh the advantages.

    It used to be if an infielder made an amazing defensive play, he generally got the emphatic out call on a bang-bang play at first base. Today, we examine the foot-to-the-bag shot like a finish-line photo, erasing a ton of outs, rendering valiant efforts meaningless. Likewise, the spectacular play to end the game is invariably held up for minutes upon review, negating the jubilant joy of the win. Instead of applauding the players, the fans must wait to applaud the umpire’s ruling. Some celebration.

    But the biggest problem with review is that while in theory a team gets a small number of challenges, in practice, every play is reviewed. If the call is at all close, a manager will step out of the dugout, and the game will halt while they wait for someone upstairs to look at the replay. Only if there’s a case will a manager issue a challenge.

    To me, getting mad at the umps has always been part of the theater of the game.

  28. jalabar says:

    I love you as a writer, but I have to disagree here. Yes, the delays are annoying. Yes, it is annoying that players who obviously beat a throw are called out when the physics of their slide has their foot bounce off the base for a millisecond. However, I do not find either of those things NEARLY as annoying as watching a blatantly missed call stand because they can’t see what I, the viewer, am seeing.

  29. mark says:

    Chiming in solely to note another vote against replay so folks know there’s at least one more of us. Why? For all the reasons noted above.

  30. yazmon says:

    I cannot agree with you on this in multiple ways Joe. First, if Rios overslides the bag, it’s his own fault. If the fielder anticipates this and maintains the tag, he should be called out. Second, just because the umpire, some fans in the stands, some fans watching at home and some of the players on the field and in the dugout do not see that he overslides does not mean that NOBODY saw he overslides. There are way too many analogies to use here that would help explain this. Third, as many readers have mentioned, the need to not have a terrible call determine the outcome of an important game is paramount.

  31. Richard says:

    I think the rule can be tweaked a little. Something like:

    “If a runner’s natural momentum when sliding into a base causes him to lose contact with that base in a manner that is only visible in a slow-motion replay, that loss of contact shall NOT be solely responsible for the runner’s being called out.”

  32. MCD says:

    A lot of good points here. I think even if you are big proponent of replay, you have to admit that it needs tweaking.
    Cheering for arbitration proceedings isn’t really a lot of fun. I think the emphasis should be correcting the truly egregious missed calls while minimizing the number of game delays.

    What’s the best way to accomplish that?

    I like the idea of all reviews being initiated by an arbiter, that would seem to target the most obvious mistakes. However, I think if you remove managers from the process, they will become more frustrated with things being completely out of their hands. Things might revert back to more donnybrooks, with manager’s will to argue their point even at the cost of being ejected.

    Could we actually *up* the number of challenges, say 5 a game, but with the stipulation that you lose *all* of them whenever a single challenge fails? This gives the managers the illusion of more input, but forces them to only use them for blatantly wrong calls.

  33. Phaedrus says:

    How much fun is baseball going to be when they institute a tennis-style challenge system on ball/strike calls?

    Do the replay fanatics insist on the same type of order in the rest of their lives? If they pass a cop while going 1 mph over the speed limit, do they immediately pull over and ask the cop for a ticket?

  34. Kuz says:

    Interesting article. I like some of the comments by Simon and Soren.

    Getting the call right 100% of the time is a laudable goal. But it is unachievable. There is variation in any process. Umpiring a baseball game is measurement system. A measurement system is a process. The goal is to minimize the variation in the umpiring process, it can never be eliminated.

    The umpiring process is an attribute, or go/no-go measurement system. In baseball there is no “almost safe” or “almost out”. You’re either safe or out. Let’s take the example of a safe/out call at first base. In real time the umpire judges that the ball hit the back of the fielder’s glove at the same time that the batter/runner’s foot touches the base. Since the throw did not beat the runner, the umpire rules the runner safe. The batting team’s manager challenges the call. The replay booth reviews the call in super-slow motion from all available angles. They also cannot determine if the ball hit the back of the fielder’s glove before or after the runner’s foot touches the bag. The replay booth confirms the safe call since the throw, in their determination, did not eat the runner. Did they get the call right? By what standard? Was there a milli-second, nano-second, pico-second difference between the ball hitting the back of the fielder’s glove and the runner touching the base? What is the back of the fielder’s glove? Did the runner’s spike touch the base before the ball hit the back of the glove? All this is unknowable with the present measurement system.

    Here’s a good real world event that illustrates this point even though I hesitate to use it because it was a political event.The goal is to get the call right. Presidential election, 2000, Florida. Attribute measurement system. You either win the state and get all the electoral vote, or you lose it and get none. Candidate A wins, State Attorney General Certifies result. But wait! Candidate A won by a few hundred votes out of millions of votes cast. Would a recount determine the “real” winner? I submit this is unknowable. The variation in the vote measurement system would be greater than the the victory margin. The “real” winner will never be known. The goal is to minimize the variation in the measurement system. The management, or in this case the government(people) must decide how many resources are allocated to reduce the variation.

    Another example: did Dez Bryant really catch the ball? We’ll never know.

  35. Ken G. says:

    Joe: I’m a lawyer and I cannot watch the NFL because it has turned into litigation, not sports. When I see a TD, I want to celebrate, not hold my breath on the inevitable replay review did he bring it to the ground, make a football move, hold the ball for 6 seconds and deliver it to the referee for safekeeping. Every coach/manager gets one Festivus Flag — you get to air one grievance with the official each game. If there is more than one bad call a game, then we live with it. Save it until you really think you need it. Return it to athletic competition, not litigation. And get the refs out of the broadcasts. That is the last thing we need.

  36. Casey Bell says:


    I agree in principle with your idea about not allowing the reviewes to watch the play
    in super-slow motion or freeze-frame detail. Calls should not be overturned based on
    such minute detail. It takes away from the flow of the game and creates a standard
    for judging umpires that is just not fair.

    It wouldn’t bother me to give the reviewer a slight edge and let them watch the play
    at half speed, but that’s it. Using the super-slow motion and stop motion to determine
    the outcome of a sport’s play is kind of like trying to count the number of Angels that
    can dance on the head of a pin. Too anal!

  37. Matt says:

    Joe: You are absolutely correct… THE END.

  38. Bob in VA says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Gore was (a) pushed off the bag, or (b) tagged by the forearm of the third baseman and not the glove/ball? But here’s the thing–baseball has paybacks. Remember the runner (sorry, don’t remember any of the names) being pushed off the bag by the Royal’s first baseman and called out? Before replay (BTW, not “reply” as it has been misspelled here many times). Just sayin’. One of the sweet fascinations many of us have about baseball is the built in way things even out over time.

    Still, I am one of the ones who is not upset about the pace of a baseball game. The Michigan-Michigan State game is another case, and that needs to be dealt with promptly.

  39. Gesge says:

    I agree that replay is super irritating. For me the worst thing is how damn long it takes. I’ve seen 5-minute reviews, which is inexcusable. Reviews should be 1 minute, tops. If there’s no ruling in 1 minute the call stands.

    And stop micro-analyzing if a runner’s leg pops off the bag for 1/4 second.

  40. Ed Davis says:

    I agree, Joe. I hate to see beautiful plays tossed out on minor technicalites after a 5 minute delay. Limited replay as you suggest would still correct obvious screw-ups, but return the focus to the games on the field, not the bickering of officials and commentators. And replay doesn’t always get the callstechnically correct – to my eyese at least.

  41. Joe, always a fan and agree that replay has bogged down sports. That said, I believe I have a better solution than “real time speed” reviews…30 sec reviews. If you can’t see a grievous mistake in the first 30 seconds, then it’s too close to overturn. 30 seconds. Heck, players take longer than that between every pitch.

  42. Joe Breslin says:

    This echoes my sentiment to the tee. Replay was instituted to fix the egregious call, not to overturn plays that even after slowing it down it’s tough to tell. Replay does not belong in Baseball and I hate it in every sport.

    As an athlete we were taught officials, umpires, refs and bad calls do not make you lose. You work and overcome a bad call not throw some stupid challenge flag and slow the game down.

    As usual Pos hits the nail on the head.

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