MLB must 'replay' instant replay

By Robby Sabo,
Baseball struggling with Instant-Replay

As the times change, technology improves and the world changes with it. Major sports leagues are not immune from this as Major League Baseball (MLB) decided to fully implement “Instant-Replay” into the game for 2014 and beyond.

In September of 2008, Instant-Replay was used for the very first time in the Major Leagues. New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez smashed a Troy Percival (a then Tampa Bay Rays pitcher) pitch, which hit one of Tropicana Field’s famous catwalks that plague the ceiling there. The initial ruling was a home run and it stuck after the umpires went to replay, reports MLB.

Since that time, baseball has used Instant-Replay to decide home run calls, the majority of which are fair or foul, until 2014, when they implemented a full-blown instant-replay system.

Perhaps MLB would like a replay on that decision, or at least the way they’ve gone about it.

There needs to be realistic expectations when dealing with such a drastic change in baseball, but what we have seen so far in 2014 goes beyond a “bump-in-the-road transition.”

Despite the opinion that this was the right thing to do (implement replay), the system is clearly flawed and action needs to take place.

The guidelines are tremendous. Managers receive one challenge per game, and if that replay is reversed (in their favor), then they receive another challenge. After the sixth-inning, the umpires also hold the right to go to the replay in cases where they are unsure about a particular call. The replay outcomes are determined by umpires rotating in MLB.com’s headquarters in New York.

What has many people ticked off, however, is the mystery of what footage is actually being seen during the replay.

This past Saturday, in a game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the Bronx, Sox Manager John Farrell challenged a play at 2nd base involving Yankees IF Dean Anna and Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts. Anna was sliding into second base for a double as Bogaerts was attempting the tag.

The call on the field: Safe.

Farrell decides to challenge. What followed is the entire TV-viewing audience clearly seeing Anna beating the tag for that double, but after the slide he lifts his foot off the bag while Bogaerts still had the glove on him.

This one is simple: It will be reversed as Dean Anna is out.

The call after replay: Safe. Impossible. Let’s be clear here. This was not a close call, it was blatantly obvious Anna was out.

In a clear mistake made by Major League Baseball, so many people could not believe what they just saw. The issue comes down to the footage that was viewed at the central headquarters where the replays are judged.

MLB issued a statement admitting fault after the mistake. Michael Teevan, an MLB Official, said this following the game, “The conclusive angle was not immediately available,” according to Kieran Darcy at ESPN New York.

This incident, along with a couple of others thus far in the 2014 season, has many scratching their heads. How is it possible that such a huge operation does not have the best available video feeds immediately available? How could the local networking feeds be better and quicker than MLB’s?

It is disturbing to say the least.

What is wrong with the human element? It is something that has gotten baseball to this point, and something that baseball purists believe to be sacred. Over 162 games' (regular season) calls even themselves out.

One of baseball’s arguments for the full-blown use of instant replay is that there will now be fewer ejections due to the decreased arguments made by managers and players over blown calls.

Anybody who saw Boston Manager John Farrell this past Sunday, the game following the blown-call, will agree with this next statement: If these mistakes keep happening there will be a record number of manager ejections in 2014.

Being snubbed by the human element is one thing. Being snubbed by technology is a whole different ballgame.

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