Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Calls For Replay & Why It Won't Happen

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times took a break from mercilessly pounding on Chip Caray to call for instant replay following the two plays involving Nick Swisher in the fourth inning yesterday. The second play:
Then, with Swisher on third, Johnny Damon flied out to center field and Swisher tagged up, scoring what appeared to be the Yankees’ fourth run. The Angels appealed, and the third-base umpire Tim McClelland called Swisher out, negating the run. Again, Fox’s multiple replays showed that McClelland appeared to be wrong.
Yes, the split-screen replays that were shown indicated that Swish was on third base when the ball was caught, but how do we know they are accurate? Someone on FOX's production team had to cue those up and in the process, could align the two separate pieces of footage however they wanted. We never saw Hunter catch the ball and Swisher leave the base in the same camera shot and thus never had conclusive proof one way or another.

Sandomir should have probably saved his protestations about instant replay for what happened in the fifth inning with Mike Napoli, Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano. Kevin Kaduk from Big League Stew (somewhat hyperbolically) called it the "worst call of all-time" and used it as a justification for instituting replay as well:
Why McClelland possibly decided that Cano was safe despite not touching the bag until after being tagged is beyond this galaxy's rules of logic and it sent Angel Stadium into a bloodthirsty frenzy. There are simply no words for the ruling, other to say that one of the five other umpires should've offered his assistance, McClelland shouldn't ump another game in this series and that it's time for Bud Selig to stop being stubborn and expand the use of instant replay in baseball past disputed home run calls.
Our buddy Jason suggests that replay be used only during playoff games, solely at the request of the crew chief. It's a good suggestion, but how would that work in practice?

Would managers use arguments to influence the umps to look at the replay? Unless there was a rule preventing that I'm sure they would - to the detriment of the pace of play. Managers go out to argue all the time as it and there is almost no benefit to them doing so. If they were restricted from arguing, you can bet there would be ample barking from the dugout on any questionable play. The point is that it would never really be "only" up to the crew chief.

As mentioned before, there are practical problems with any sort of disputed play when runners are moving as well. If a ball is incorrectly ruled a catch when it should have been a hit, where do you put the runners? It's not as cut and dry as we'd like it to be.

I'm all for replay and think we could figure these issues out, but unfortunately I think Rob Neyer is right when he says that it's not happening as long as Bug Selig is around:
Bud Selig has been described as a revolutionary, but of course today's revolutionary is tomorrow's reactionary. Realignment and wild cards; interleague play; expansion; franchise movement; "this time it counts"; video review ... what do all these things have in common? All have happened on commissioner Selig's watch, and nearly all have not been revisited since, even in the face of obvious deficiencies. Do we really want to see the Royals playing the Pirates in June? Are all 30 franchises perfectly placed? Is 30 the perfect number of franchises? Is the All-Star Game the best way to determine the home team in the World Series.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. My point is that these discussions are essentially irrelevant as long as Bud Selig is commissioner. I promise you that the moment a new commissioner is in place, the offices at Major League Baseball and within the 30 franchises around the nation (plus Toronto) will be buzzing with talk about addressing these and other core issues. Today, though? The commissioner has done what he's wanted to do. Why do something else now?
Blown calls are maddening when you can see them played out in slow motion HD over and over again, then commented on endlessly the next day. Especially when idiots attribute the outcome of the game to them. The technology is available and the fans at home can clearly when an error has been made. Judging by the crowd reactions in the Big A last night, the fans in the ballpark could see the them too.

There's no good reason that there shouldn't be instant replay in baseball. But there is a reason. And that reason is Bud Selig.


  1. "Judging by the crowd reactions in the Big A last night, the fans in the ballpark could see them too."

    During the broadcast it seemed as if all of the close plays were being shown on the jumbotron at the Big A. Then at some point McCarver pointed out that they were showing the close plays on the big board.

    I'm pretty sure that the umpires' union doesn't allow this, something I think Neyer has touched on in the past. Have you ever been at Yankee Stadium and seen a close play on replay? I don't think I remember it ever happening. Had no effect on the game, but that would be pretty shitty of the Angels if they were actually doing that.

  2. Angry - According to this, they weren't being shown...

    It sure sounded like it though, didn't it? I guess the people in the stands were taking their cues from those watching the TVs in the concourses? Seemed to be timed too well though. Not sure about the McCarver comment, didn't catch that.

    And no they don't show close plays at Yankee Stadium. Just hits and nice defensive plays, etc.

  3. Well I'm glad I'm not least in this instance.

    It really sounded like they were seeing the replays, and I remember remarking to my wife when McCarver said something about it. She didn't give a shit of course, which only fired me up more. The lag time from bad call to outraged fans didn't seem long enough for it to be people in the concourses. Of course I've got absolutely no proof. So I'm worse than those yahoos over at Halos Heaven.

    At the same time, I'd think the umps would go nuts if it was something they had negotiated into their contract...

  4. At Safeco, they have the local FSN feed playing on TVs throughout the concourse as well as some of the premium seating on the Terrace Club level (200-level). They don't show the replays on the big screen, but enough people can rile up the crowd.

    You cited HalosHeaven as your source for blaming the loss on the umps. I believe these are the same morons who caused the Spitgate incident yesterday.

  5. the concept of aligning video, splicing, etc. never crossed my mind. the prevent that, MLB should make a rule saying if any tech guy (or tech girl) tinkers like that because they're a rabid fan trying to change the outcome of the game, then that team will be banned from baseball and dissolved and immediately given the L. one word. deterrent.

  6. oops, typo - "to prevent" not "the prevent" ... also, the L should be given as the first thing, then the team banned and finally the team dissolved. one of the local announcers here said he can see more replay rules creeping into MLB -the proof already apparent because of the fair-or-foul hr replay rule. i'm not sure i agree and unsure on what i prefer, but it would make gametimes longer and ad execs would be able to sell more ad space to Geico, Progressive and Cialis

  7. Here's Bud Selig's response last year when asked about the use of replay being extended to other areas of the game: "Not as long as I'm the commissioner."

    I keep sending him fruit baskets and Metamucil. While I don't have the disdain that most have for Selig, for this reason alone I hope his tenure continues for another 15 years or more.

  8. Yeah, I'm not holding my breath for replays either.