Writer’s Roundtable: Replay in Baseball? – Phillies Nation

Writer’s Roundtable: Replay in Baseball?

Games are won and lost each year as a direct result of missed calls by umpires. So, naturally, this topic seems to come up every year. Should there be replay in baseball? If so, to what extent should replay be used? Can we use an alternative to replay? My opinion is that MLB should add an additional umpire that watches the game in real time on various monitors in a booth and can talk to the umpires on the field if a call should get reversed or at least looked at in slow motion. Here’s what the rest of our writers think:

Jay Floyd: The technology is there and it’s helpful in ensuring the proper calls are made in others sports and in certain aspects of baseball, so let’s get the appropriate changes in motion to give professional baseball the right results all of the time.

The basis of arguments against replay in baseball is often that it subverts the legacy of the sport or undermines the umpires that are, for some reason, held so sacred, despite constantly being proven unworthy of support for having exceptional judgement.

I don’t know what the best methods for expansion of video replay in baseball should be, but with the ability to get every call right, why not use it? Preserving history and officials’ feelings aren’t strong enough reasons to deny players, team personnel and fans a 100% accurate and legitimate outcome.

Pat Gallen: I’m all for replay being a part of the game. However, I do not want to see several stoppages per game as the game is slow enough already. We’ve come a long way with technology and it should be used when necessary. But let’s not completely remove the human element of the game. I like it for home runs and I like the idea of a few challenges for managers for calls at bases and fair or foul balls.

Perhaps 2 challenges on calls that do not pertain to home runs can be used per game and if both of those are correct a third can be given. You can not use a challenge on balls or strikes. Also, to keep the pace of the game, the crew chief should wear an earpiece and be hooked up to a 5th umpire or a “war room” like the NHL has implemented to get the call correct in a timely fashion.

That said, if MLB were to do little or nothing in the way of change replay, I’d be OK with it. We did without it for a long time and the game is still strong.

Corey Seidman: I have long been a proponent of one managerial challenge per game, using the same method used in football. I see zero downside. People criticize this option and I have no idea why.

It forces a manager to be strategic. He may or may not use his challenge. If he uses it and the call is overturned in his favor, he gets another one. If the call stands, he’s out of challenges.

This doesn’t prolong a game. It would figure to decrease the time of a game, because if a bad call is made and the manager is out of challenges, he can be immediately ejected for coming out to argue, no matter the play in question.

To me, this makes more sense than the proposed expansion of replay to all balls down the line and traps vs. catches. THAT will prolong games.

Eric Seidman: I’ve long advocated the position of having an extra ump in a box somewhere with multiple monitors. This ump can, via headset or some such device, relay to the umps that something needs to be reversed. We can’t continue to have instances where balls are called foul even though we clearly see the indentation in the chalk, and more of the like. This box-ump wouldn’t reverse balls or strikes, but there are far too many plays that could be avoided if there was simply somebody else monitoring everything, letting the umps know it needs to be reversed, and then having it reversed.

Ryan Dinger: For most of my baseball-watching life, I’ve been a staunch opponent to the integration of instant reply. But, in recent years, I’ve stepped back from that belief. Perhaps it’s because of the HD technology we’re now subjected to each and every night, or the ability to slow down a replay to microseconds, where there can be no disputing whether a runner was safe or out, a ball caught or dropped, but I now find myself clamoring for the increased usage of replay in baseball.

I’d be in favor of incorporating replay in baseball for just about any instance that doesn’t include an umpire calling balls and strikes (an umpire’s strike zone has always been and always should be subjective). I think the idea of giving a manager two challenges–similar to what they do in the NFL–with a third one awarded for two correct challenges is an excellent strategy for incorporating replay.

Don McGettigan: I too am a big fan of the “5th umpire” idea. MLB should have an additional umpire in a video booth (similar to the NHL), and when a call needs a review – they are able to utilize all available camera angles, slow motion, freeze frame – whatever it takes to get the call correct.

However, I think MLB umpires do a very good job, and they never get praise for a job done well. Think of all the “bad calls” that you have seen on TV in recent years, now think of all the “good calls” that replays have confirmed to be correct calls by the umpires.

Ian Riccaboni: Part of the beauty of baseball for me is remarkable percentage by which the officials do make the right call. Adding challenges or extended replay would distract from the umpires’ successes and add unnecessary breaks to the steady pace of the game.

I am not a fan of extending replay past what already exists with one exception – adding an eye-in-the-sky, fifth umpire who can help on fair or foul calls. Letting the game essentially play out on close fair or foul calls would not interrupt the game and would avoid situations like the missed call in the Johan Santana no-hitter. I would never touch balls or strikes or bang-bang plays at the bag.



  1. DCmikey

    September 13, 2012 at 7:40 am

    All are such great opinions!!
    I’m with you Corey! I find that very interesting.

    And Eric I really like your idea as well!

    Great write up.

    Now, let’s beat the Astros tonight!!!

  2. The Original Chuck P

    September 13, 2012 at 8:33 am

    There was a play that occurred a couple weeks ago where a shallow fly ball was trapped and mistakenly called an out by the ump with the bases loaded- Dom Brown was doubled off second base (confused) and the play surely cost the phillies a run. The problem with a play like that is that realistically, the center fielder would have had a decent chance to nab the runner trying to advance from first. Everyone sort of has to react to the umpires call on the field. How do you rectify those sort of plays?

  3. MarkA

    September 13, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Cricket (yeah, I know, but hang in there) has a good system. There is an umpire behind one wicket and an umpire perpendicular to the wicket the batsman is protecting. That gives them an excellent view of what’s going on. If something happens and they are both unsure as to the correct call, one of them draws a big square (TVs being, well, squareish) in the air with their arms. the “third” umpire then reviews the play from the cameras (and the tiny camera inside the bail) and the decision is shown by three (because two would be boring) lights of the appropriate colour to determine if the batter is in or out. That system could work.

  4. betasigmadeltashag

    September 13, 2012 at 8:54 am

    The biggest problem I see with replay being used for fair or foul balls and trap plays is how do you determin what would happen if the call is reversed. Like mentioned above on the trap play, catch or no catch, if you replay it and it obvious that he did not catch it what happens with the base runners? The guy on first has to go half way, and react to the call, and like mentioned may have been thrown out at second if the call was made correctly, or even the runner going to third. The same thing would happen on a foul ball that is replayed and shown to be fair. The defensive player would react to the foul call and let up on the play. Do the baserunners get one base, two. I know it would be hard thing to do, but maybe you would have to say in certin situations like no one on than fair or foul can be reviewed. The players would have to play out foul balls ie run them out and the defensive player would have to play all balls as if fair. I am not a big fan of replays except for HR balls.

  5. Ryan H

    September 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

    There is a right and wrong way to do it. Just dont do it on like the nfl because replay in that league is a horrible long boring process that kills the game. I cant stand it. I also dont like the concept of challenging the officials. Id prefer they just review questionable calls on their own fast and easy

  6. Don M

    September 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Chuck P and Beta . . . . THAT is probably the biggest issue . . . overturning a call leads to all kinds of problems. Runners on, batted ball down the line is called FOUL.. so everyone stops, but on replay it shows the ball was FAIR… who is the judge of if the runner would’ve gotten to 2nd – (if that’s the case, do all runners just advance 2 bases?).. etc..

    I think teams would rather take the hit than the foul ball though – so getting the call correct is overall more important than the other results of that call.

  7. EricL

    September 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Robot umpires for everything. Balls and strikes included.

    This “calls should be subjective” nonsense makes me want to punch kittens. If you can get calls right nearly all of the time, why argue that they should still be incorrect?

    And replay would eliminate nearly all of the arguing on the field because they wouldn’t have anything to argue about – the calls would be demonstrably correct. So there’s no way it slows down the game (unless Selig does what he’s best at and implements it in a moronic way, like the current “everyone leave the field to go to the parking lot to watch a little TV. Except that one ump who just stands there all lonely and stupid-looking” method).

    Runners can be advanced at the replay-reviewer’s discretion, just like the umpires have the discretion to move them now on balls that involve ground rules and balls interfered with and the like. Either way it’s an improvement: assuming replays overturn 50% of the calls controversial enough to use them, you’ve reduced the number of mistakes in the game and so even if you don’t like the baserunner situation, it’s still not as bad as the situation in which a larger number of plays are ruled incorrectly. It’s like how airbags break peoples noses and smash into your face at a couple-hundred MPH, but in the end we accept those problems because they’re much less prevalent and much less problematic than the accidents they were installed to assist in.

    • George

      September 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

      The technology is not yet there to make robot umpires a reality. There would be programming glitches (particularly on ball/strike calls, because the “ump” would constantly have to readjust to batters’ height and handedness, and would no doubt have difficulties with checked swings and hit-by-pitches). Ground rules would have to be programmed in at each location. Robots would have no way of knowing if a pitch was doctored or a bat corked or a glove had glue in it. Robot technology certainly didn’t help certain Toyotas to stop.

      I’ve seen calls which even on replay were extremely difficult to determine. TV cameras are limited in their scope, and unless the field has thousands of them to cover every square inch and every angle of the play, mistakes could still be made.

      While some automatic equipment could help, there is no way it would make every call inarguable. Just ask a weatherman if certain radar images mean a storm. He’ll probably tell you something like “70% chance,” but the other weatherman will say “50%.” There’s ALWAYS the subjective factor, whether we want it or not.

      • EricL

        September 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

        >”While some automatic equipment could help, there is no way it would make every call inarguable.”

        All calls would be inarguable because NOBODY WANTS TO ARGUE WITH THE CYBORG-UMP! HE WILL DESTROY YOU!

      • Lefty

        September 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

        “”We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”

  8. Jonathan Nisula

    September 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Yeah I don’t want a delay in the game. Some games are so slow as it is, and replay interruptions would really kill the flow of the game

    • EricL

      September 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      If you root for Jonathan Papelbon you have no right to complain about slow games. lol

      Really though, a booth review, much like they do in hockey, would be much quicker than having some fat, geriatric buffoon who, for some inexplicable reason actually wears a baseball uniform, saunter out onto the field and yell at the umps from time to time.

      Also, much more accurate too. If there’s going to be a delay (players and managers arguing calls and whatnot) why not make that delay productive and get the right call?

      • Lefty

        September 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

        Pardon for a little whimsical OT, but since you mentioned it…. I’ve wondered how long it takes Mr. Cinco- Ocho to do common household chores, you know like -six days to cut the lawn, four hours to make a bed, stuff like that. Dude is sooooo slow.

  9. Andrew from Waldorf

    September 13, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Chuck P nd BETA

    Donny Moron will tickle your FANCY.


    Ryan Howard and his INSANELY bad percentages will ALWAYS have a home here.
    In this world he is feared and a star.

    WITHOUT HIM you cannot compete.

    • George

      September 13, 2012 at 11:16 am

      And what does this have to do with instant replay? Did you wake up drunk or something?

    • betasigmadeltashag

      September 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      take all the numbers you want I just have one question, what is the Phillies winning percentage without Ryan and what is it with him. You can bitch all you want about him but the win more when he is in the lineup

  10. George

    September 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

    The picture here says it all. The fifth umpire suggested (in this case, the Phanatic is the 7th ump; must be a playoff game) is would still be a human being, capable of mistakes. I can even imagine him as being green from eating ballpark concessions, and jumping about wildly, just because he’d be so bored waiting to give his opinions on a play.

    • Lefty

      September 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Ha! Why don’t we just let the Phanatic be the 7th ump and make the decisons?

      Charlie could get mad and kick dirt on him, and he could throw confetti or popcorn on old Uncle Cholly. It could go back and forth like that and it would be more entertaining than watching 7 replay angles and listening to Tim McCarver tell you seven times why they got it right or wrong.

      Over all I’m for using whatever technology is available to get it right, no matter what system they employ.

  11. The Original Chuck P

    September 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

    By the way… I agree with Corey that the best way and most efficient way to handle it would be to have an ump in a box reviewing all calls – would be able to communicate with the head ump in cases where a call was really botched. No challenges… there are so few botched calls that there is probably no need for a challenge system (I tip my hat to the ups for getting so many calls right). You can easily review force plays at any base. You can easily review home run calls. Fair/foul/trap calls… do you automatically assume a given outcome (ground rule double with all runners advancing two bases for fair/foul calls and single for trapped balls)? Do you call every close call “fair” or “safe” and let it play out? The latter would drastically slow down the game… the former would seem to result in some strange scenarios. I’m not sure you can give the umpire the right to make a judgment call.

  12. Jaron B

    September 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I am a fan of one or two challenges per manager (ten seconds to decide whether to challenge it) AND up to five requests from a “booth ump” on any call that does not involve balls or strikes. Outfield wall hits always reviewed if manager asks (no challenge or booth challenge req’d). Ninth inning and extras: unlimited booth ump requests but NO managerial challenges.

    Pace of game: the review process can be made to take less time than the “argue and eject ‘system'” we currently have. In the LLWS, managers never argued BECAUSE they had a replay rule and subsequently asked nicely for one. Back to MLB: there are only two close calls per game on average (based on the OTL report a couple seasons ago).

    I am also a fan of strike-zone analysis for the ump’s benefit: “What are his biases?”

    We can make the game smoother with this method. I’m for instant replay.

  13. Ryne Duren

    September 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    the most technological advance for calling balls and strikes correctly has already been invented! a lot of people i know call them glasses! and if they trained themsevles to be positioned correctly behind the plate to actually have a chance to call an inside or outside pitch would help them . as far as the rest i think leave it in for HR’s , trapped balls and fouls. don’t worry about the outcome of where the runners will end up. that’ll work out.

  14. Sy

    September 14, 2012 at 11:16 am

    With Charlie as manager, the Phillies are dead in the water. If Charlie thinks that by playing percentages in the late innings is managing, he doesn’t understand what it takes to win. He has a bullpen full of second rate miner leaguers who do their best to loose games.

    Ryan Howard is a has been. Any school boy pitcher can strike him out with a low outside pitch. He is not a hitter and never will be. He has no idea how to anticipate a pitcher. He stands so far back in the box that he doesn’t stand a chance of hitting a breaking ball.

    What the Phillies should do is move Utely to 1st and put Galvis at 2nd. By the way Galvis doesn’t have a fracture of the spine. He has a congenital defect which does not have to be rested. That “fracture” will never heal and is not important.

    Seymour Shlomchik, M.D.
    Certified by The American Board of Orthopedic Surgery

  15. roofing dallas

    September 25, 2012 at 11:16 am

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