Friday, May 23, 2008

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Replay. Maybe.

The announcement of a possible replay experiment has prompted quite a bit of discussion (especially in these parts; join the fray here), but the Yankees have a decidedly more low-tech approach:
Yankee Stadium workers put up netting Thursday on a staircase just beyond the right-center field wall, the spot that confused the umpires, cost Alex Rodriguez a home run and intensified baseball’s debate about instant replay.

“It’ll make it a little easier out there,” umpire crew chief Tim Welke said.

As I said in the comments on the other thread, I've not yet decided how I feel about replay. There's nothing wrong with accuracy, mind you, but I do fear that instituting it for boundary calls is the camel's nose in the tent, as they say. Maybe this is better off being addressed with a clearer delineation of ground rules and some extra training and vigilance on the part of umps?

Also, someone made a good point over at BTF re: the Arizona Fall League experiment, and that's the idea that, hey, have they ever had cameras at AFL games to begin with? Apart from my earlier reservation about it (i.e. the AFL setting is too strange and the sight lines too different from MLB stadiums for it to be a useful test) isn't it going to be costly and inefficient to lug 15 cameras -- or whatever would be needed to simulate a real baseball game -- out to the AFL?

Or -- and I'm just spitballin' here -- is it possible that yesterday's story was merely a leak of a phony plan designed to take the heat off of umps for missing calls in three games in a week?

UPDATE: Jason from IIATMS has been weighing in on the comments here, but you should go over to his site and check out his thoughts on the matter as well, because they're more cogent than my general unease/cautious acceptance.


Jason said...

I don't think it was a phony leak; there was a proposal in front of Selig this most recent off-season but Bud single-handedly shelved it. Make no mistake about it: baseball, save Bud, wanted this to be in place THIS year.

This is not solely because there were two obvious missed calls in NY, like some of the commenters thought. Was it an accelerant? You betchya, and sometimes that's all any change needs.

The NFl has guidelines what plays and situations they can't use IR for, including penalties and other stuff. They even had a rule that prevented the officials from using IR on FG, until one clanged off the support bar and back OVER the crossbar. Then they changed the rules.

The NHL changed their rules mid-playoff series when a player was waving his stick in front of the goalie's face.

The point it, when a league sees a correctable human error, the smart ones try to find a way to fix that error, within reason.

We're all concerned about the slippery slope, but at some point it will be legislated that IR will only be used for boundary plays, not safe/out, ball/strike.

themarksmith said...

Legislated for how long? What happens when a Matt Holliday-like slide costs someone a playoff game? The rule will be changed then. We didn't complain this postseason all that much because the Rockies were a great story and then they made it to the World Series. We're not angry about that now. We got over it because it didn't really matter. Sometimes I think we take sports too seriously. I love sports, but it's only entertainment. Honestly, I think it's hilarious when people argue over the calls. I'm entertained. Can we do instant replay for dumb Presidential or Congressional decisions?

For a more cohesive argument against IR, look at my blog (

Daniel said...

Well, there WAS a missed call at home plate in a game that determined a playoff berth and there was very little serious talk about instituting replay on those kinds of calls. Certainly none among the head honchos at MLB. Conversely, the homerun replay has been up for consideration for awhile now.

I know we bash baseball for making dumb decisions, but the fact is that the game is thriving, so SOMEONE must be doing something right. I'm of the opinion that we need to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one and trust that they're going to confine instant replay to homerun calls only and come to the conclusion that instituting replay on other calls would be disruptive and counter-productive.

themarksmith said...

Ty Wiggington just hit a ball down the third base line. It was called foul but was fair. Still think there won't be calls for IR on foul line calls? ... or anything else.