Major League Baseball has had a plethora of close and controversial calls that have affected close regular-season, playoff, and World
Series outcomes. I used to despise instant replay, and I still really do not like it all that much. However, as I see more controversial calls, I have gravitated toward a need for a sensible solution that involves instant replay’s use.
In the January 13 NFL playoff game between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, a scoring play garnered the instant replay challenge from Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak. Texans’ receiver DeVier Posey caught the ball on his back in the end zone but was ruled out of bounds. Kubiak challenged that Posey had control of the ball in bounds. Kubiak won the challenge, and Posey scored a touchdown. The game was out of hand at that point, but at least Kubiak had the opportunity to call his own challenge and won it.
Little League World Series rule
I also recall watching a 2012 Little League World Series game and noticing the manner in which this televised game handled instant replay. In this particular game, the runner was called out on a force play at second base. The offensive coach challenged the play but lost. I remember hearing the TV announcer explaining that in the televised tournament, coaches may challenge any play they want, but two unsuccessful attempts would disqualify any further challenges for the game.
Plenty of reasons to use replay
As of now, MLB policy says that only possible home runs can get reviewed and only at the umpires’ discretion. Talk for 2013 included expanding instant replay to cover fair/foul balls, trapped/caught balls, and fan interference. I can think of a crucial example of each.
In Johan Santana’s 2012 no hitter, a Cardinals’ drive down the left field line sure looked as if it landed fair to me but was called foul. The Yankees benefited from a “foul” call against the Twins in the 2009 ALDS. As a Yankee and Cub fan, I also remember Derek Jeter’s 1996 ALCS “home run” and the 2003 NLCS Game 6 fan interference non-call as well as anyone can. Add in the 1985 Don Denkinger World Series “safe” call at first base and many other controversial safe/out calls, and we can all see that MLB clearly needs a better replay system.
Possible instant replay policy
If the NFL and even Little League can use instant replay effectively, why can’t Major League Baseball? The current system limits the types of calls eligible for review. Letting the umpires decide gives the managers no say in the matter. Perhaps a sensible solution is possible. Maybe a manager can have two challenges for the game. If he wins a challenge, then no further action is necessary. If he loses, then he gets charged a trip to the mound if on defense. If he is on offense, then the batter is out — or some other penalty applies if that one is not good enough. Each manager gets an extra challenge in extra innings.
If MLB wants to use instant replay, then the managers should decide when to review a play. A system like this or something else sensible would solve many problems, help the umpires get the calls right, and save time on arguments. I am still not a great fan of instant replay, but if it helps the game, then I accept it — if used sensibly.
SI.com, AP Newsbreak, No Expanded Replay in MLB This Year, sportsillustraded.cnn.com, March 13, 2012.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau
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Filed Under: Major League Baseball