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Sunday Rockpile: More on replay

A few more thoughts on instant replay.

Al Bello

The big story of the week in Major League Baseball is the announcement that the league intends to expand replay for the 2014 season. This has been much discussed here at Purple Row but I thought I'd throw a few thoughts out there on a lazy Sunday.

Last night's no-good-very-bad third inning featured one play I thought might be interesting under a replay system. The attempted diving catch by Corey Dickerson that could have drastically changed the outcome of that inning was probably ruled correctly. It does, however, seem like the kind of place a manager might think replay could show that the ball was lost on the exchange, still recording an out on the catch.

These are the kinds of plays that some worry about when worrying about time. Simply due to the importance of the play considering the situation (runners on in an inning that wouldn't end) it might have been worth challenging. There was no argument on the play, because it's not the kind of play that is typically argued and because it looked clear live that he dropped the ball, but in a challenge system, it may be worth another look.

I am less worried that the new replay system will result in longer games. Frankly I just don't care that much. I know a lot of people think baseball is too long but I am not one of those people. Still, I do think that ultimately the time it takes to review will be a wash with the time it takes for a manager or player to argue and get tossed.

As many of you may already know, I am not a fan of umpires. This being the case, I am actually glad that there is a challenge system as opposed to only centralized review from a de-located umpire. The simple reason is that I don't trust umpires to recognize their own mistakes. Also, ofttimes, the person most directly involved with the play, the guy making the catch (or not) knows or saw or felt more than any of the rest of us could see from a distance.

We see this all the time in football, where the receiver is certain he made the catch and demands for a replay knowing that the officials couldn't have seen it the way he did but that replay will vindicate him. There need to be challenges because I don't expect umpires (even ones in a remote location) to be accurately critical of themselves.

This move in expanding replay is a great step forward, although I am still going to campaign for robots to call balls and strikes as I think those missed calls are both the most important and the most subject to biases and inconsistencies.

I think the system they have devised will work pretty well, probably even better than the NFL's did to start, and am most impressed by the number of people who were originally against the idea (Bud Selig, Joe Torre) who had to come together to make a system everyone including the players and the umpires signed off on.

If you are worried the games will take too long, DVR them and skip the in-between stuff or watch football.


Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkijan talk instant replay on the Baseball Tonight podcast. A good conversation even if I don't agree with everything said.

Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs just did an AMAZING break-down of the swing paths of the 50 most successful hitters in baseball. A very thorough explanation and entertaining read...y'know if you're really really into baseball.