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Saturday Rockpile: Thoughts on instant replay

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Major League Baseball has announced the expansion of replay to all non-ball/strike calls and the addition of a manager challenge system for the 2014. But is it a good idea?

Had replay been in place in 2010, Armando Galarraga, now with the Sky Sox, would have a perfect game to his name.
Had replay been in place in 2010, Armando Galarraga, now with the Sky Sox, would have a perfect game to his name.
Leon Halip

On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced the expansion of instant replay to encompass all calls except for balls and strikes. Each manager will have three challenges per game, one in the first six innings, and two more in the final three frames. Final decision on calls will come from a former umpire watching games at a central location in New York.

People can complain all they want, but replay has come to baseball and is very probably here to stay.

Personally, I'm in favor of expanding replay, and would even be fine with some sort of PITCH f/x-based automated ball/strike system. It is time baseball joined the rest of sports in the 21st century, the NBA, NFL and NHL all have replay systems in place, even the English Premier League has added goal-line technology for the 2013-14 season.

You know who has made the pro-replay all the easier to make? The umpires themselves. For whatever reason, whether it be that they are under more scrutiny or an actual dip in performance, it seems that umpiring has been rather poor throughout the 2013 season especially and in recent years overall. Even MLB's own network came up with a fairly lengthy montage of calls from the 2012 and 2013 seasons that would easily have been overturned were the proposed replay system in place.

While I am in favor of replay in general, I am not a fan of the way in which MLB has chosen to implement it, mainly the system of manager challenges. The decision to initiate a review of a play should be in the hands of the officials, not the coaches/managers, as it is in the NBA and NHL.

I would like to see a fifth umpire, whether he be in the press box (my preference) or in a central office, to be tasked with paging the crew chief to initiate reviews of close plays. Who is more likely to ask for a review where one is not warranted, a manager who thinks his team was robbed or an impartial arbiter seeing the play for what it is? Having an official initiate reviews also cuts down on managers attempting to game the challenge system.

So, kudos to MLB for finally embracing technology, it's just a shame they chose to do so in the way they did.

LINKS:

Rockies players prefer expanded replay - with debate on a historic play: "The Slide" - Denver Post
Troy Renck talks with some Rockies players, including Todd Helton, who were unanimously in favor of expanded replay. He also discusses the impact replay may have had on Game 163 in 2007.

Russell Wilson takes hits now as Seahawks QB; as a second baseman in Rockies' farm system, he was missing them - Denver Post
Broncos reporter Mike Klis catches up with former Rockies farmhand Russell Wilson, who will be quarterbacking the Seahawks in a preseason game against Denver tonight.