Did MLB Get It Right with Expanded Instant Replay?

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IINovember 14, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 4:  Home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom #38 discusses with the other umpires whether a ball hit by Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies in the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds is a home run at Great American Ball Park on June 4, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. After an instant replay review the hit was ruled a home run and the Rockies defeated the Reds 5-4.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has moved one step closer to having instant replay become a fixture in the game after the owners voted Thursday to expand the current model.

Having been tested in the Arizona Fall League with much success, the owners voted to approve funding for its implementation, according to MLB.com's Paul Hagen. The deal must still pass a final vote by the owners at their January meeting and meet the approval of the Major League Baseball Player's Association and World Umpire's Association. But all indications are that it will be up and running at the start of the 2014 season:

"I think we're quite far along," (MLB commissioner Bud) Selig said. "The bottom line is, we're moving forward on replay. People spoke very emotionally about it. Clubs are very excited about it. Unless there's something I'm missing right now, we're going to have replay in 2014."

In August, the owners were presented with a plan that would give managers one challenge in the first six innings and two challenges from the seventh inning until the end of the game. However, there were some minor changes:

Instead, there will be one set of challenges for the entire game, although it's still to be determined whether each manager will get one or two challenges.

In either case, the manager would retain his challenge if he's right and forfeit it if he's wrong. There are ongoing discussions about the circumstances under which the umpires could decide to review a close call if one or both managers has run out of challenges.

While the full system isn't in place yet, the parameters are there, and baseball will do a few tweaks here and there prior to the start of the season.

With that said, did MLB get it right with expanded replay?


Changes Had to Be Made

The last couple of years have shown us many incorrect calls that a simple replay would have overturned.

The most notable was the safe call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce during Armando Galarraga's perfect-game bid in 2010. Although Joyce admitted he was wrong after seeing the replay, it didn't take away the fact that it cost Galarraga a perfect game.

Another good example was in a game between the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011 in which Julio Lugo was called safe at the plate in the 19th inning when he was clearly out. Replay would have clearly shown Lugo was out, and the game should have continued.

Here's a look at some other notable plays throughout history that could have been overturned by replay:

Oct. 26, 1985Royals, CardinalsWorld Series, Game 6video
Oct. 20, 1991Braves, TwinsWorld Series, Game 2video
Oct. 9, 1996Orioles, YankeesALCS, Game 1video
Oct. 1, 2007Padres, RockiesWild-Card Tiebreakervideo
May 2, 2012Dodgers, RockiesRegular Seasonvideo


Games have been changed, and so has history, by simple mistakes by umpires. It's not a knock on them because most of them do take their jobs seriously. But they do miss calls every now and then.


Format Is Good

Whether the format is one challenge or two, the fact that managers will keep the challenge if the call is overturned makes it a good format.

The worst thing that can happen is that a manager challenges a call they know to be wrong and it gets overturned. Then, they lose that challenge for later in the game when there might be another call that goes against them.

With a limited number of challenges, it also forces managers to strategize on when they'll use their challenge. While they may believe an out call at first base is wrong, the fact that it was a bang-bang play could make them hold on to their challenge—especially if it's early in the game.

After all, would a manager challenge a close play at first in the first inning when there are already two outs and nobody else on? If they did, it would be at the risk of losing a challenge that could be needed in a bigger situation later in the game.

The NFL already has a similar system in place, and it's worked with a lot of success. There's no reason to believe the same can't be said about MLB.


Did MLB Get It Right?

MLB absolutely got this right. Fans have been calling for it for a long time, and MLB is finally joining the 21st century.

Managers will still come out to argue calls, especially if they've used up their challenges. But if they haven't, managers can just challenge the play, and it will save on time from the ensuing argument.

Fans won't think their team is getting jipped by the umpires, and the right call will be made. What is more important than that?