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Opinion: Did MLB Get It Right With Instant Replay?


August 15, 2015

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Instant replay needs to be changed and changed in a hurry. After the launch of the system for the 2014 major league season, there was a lot of positive buzz around the league as well as with the fans.

Turn forward to August of 2015 and the expectations have hit rock bottom. Instant replay in baseball has been a letdown, disappointment, whatever you want to call it. It’s NOT WORKING!

For starters, the system is flawed and managers have openly stated they don’t even understand what can be challenged or what can’t be exactly, so they just sit back and wait to hear word from their clubhouse on whether or not to step out and challenge.

Not to mention it seems like replay slows the game down tremendously when MLB has flirted with the idea of ways to shorten games. Not only is there a problem with the dialect of the rulings, if the managers want to even say one word or take one step after a decision is made they get tossed?

Come on now, this is the biggest joke and everyone knows it. Every fan, player, and manager would love to see the correct call made on the field, but our hopes have been smashed with missed calls after missed calls with little to no explanation. Umpires have been a part of baseball since the day it began and they bring the “human element” to the game which is what makes it great. Sure the umps may miss a call every now and then or don’t have a good angle but even after we’ve had replay for 2 seasons, we’re seeing that the umps actually make fantastic calls in milliseconds with their own eyes.

Not with some TV monitor hundreds of miles away making a judgement call.

Who are you going to trust more, an umpire with 10+ years’ experience or a replay booth man back in New York? That’s what I thought as well, so why are we even letting some official who’s not even present to make a call? Stats provided by MLB in 2011 came out and stated that the umpires for that season got 99.5% of the calls right! We will never get to 100% even with replay so what exactly are we accomplishing at this point?

Keep instant replay but overhaul the system and make it to where umps make the decision by looking at the monitor just like the NFL. Perhaps make it have a time limit to make the decision come out faster. There are ways to improve the system but it seems like we are almost content with the product when we shouldn’t be.

Quick example was the Rangers game last week against the Mariners where there were three replays in the game alone. After timing all three replays it came out to a whopping 10 minutes and 33 seconds. Two of the calls were overturned and the other stood. Both of the overturned plays were terrible calls that were actually made correctly by the umpires on the field. Just when you think, there’s no way they can overturn this or make this call stand they do it anyways. The problem is we’re letting a booth review person in New York make the call and have a huge impact on the game when they’re not even present. Even with all the technology at their disposal they continue to blow calls and its mind blowing!

According to baseballsavant.com the replays stats for 2014 and 2015 show an interesting trend. In 2014 the two most challenged plays are force plays (38%) and tag plays (33%). So far in 2015 those numbers are (40%) on tag plays and down to (34%) on force plays. In 2015, of those force plays a whopping (33.5%) of them happen at first base which comes as no surprise considering the speed of players and arm strength of the infielders in today’s game.

Another interesting note is that the umpire’s challenges have dropped in the past year from 17.55% in 2014 to 12.38% in 2015. To me umpires are adapting better and getting more confidence in their calls.

Texas Rangers: For 2015 the Rangers have challenged 36 times and have only had the call overturned 13 times (36%) which is one of the lower percentages in the league.

The Rangers have also been challenged against 30 times this season. Out of those 30 times only 11 times has the challenged stood (36.67%).

*Fun tidbit: Which team in the past two seasons has had the most challenges combined? The answer is the Chicago Cubs with 94 total challenges for the past two seasons. Their success rate is around 49% and whether you want to call it luck or just good decisions on when to challenge, well I’ll let you make the CALL.

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