When MLB announced the implementation of a new replay system before the 2014 season, it was widely assumed that this initiative would make wrong game-changing calls a thing of the past.
But the replay system has not worked as advertised, often upholding calls on the field despite video footage showing enough evidence for those calls to be overturned.
The Toronto Blue Jays have already been on the receiving end of several of these questionable calls that the replay system has upheld. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to see Jose Bautista blasting the entire concept of video review after having yet another challenge go against his team.
"This whole replay thing has become a joke in my eyes," Bautista told reporters following a game against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, via Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. “I think they should just ban it, they should just get rid of it. I don’t really understand the purpose of it, but getting the right call on the field is not the purpose. That’s pretty obvious and evident.”
These frustrations stemmed from a play in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game. With the Blue Jays losing 3-1 to the A’s and Melky Cabrera on base, Bautista hit a two-out double that Cabrera tried to score on, only to be called out at home. Toronto challenged the call and despite replays showing Cabrera appearing to dodge the tag from A’s catcher Derek Norris, the call at the plate was upheld.
Had that call been overturned, the Blue Jays would’ve made it a 3-2 game with the tying run standing at second base.
“I feel like a chance for Adam Lind to tie the game in the eighth inning was taken away from him,” said Bautista.
Like mentioned above, this wasn’t the first time Toronto has run afoul of the replay system.
Just days before this latest incident, the Blue Jays had two replay challenges go against them during the same game against the Milwaukee Brewers. On the first play, Munenori Kawasaki had appeared to dodge a tag but was called out by the umpire. The call was still upheld despite replays showing that Kawasaki might have dodged the tag. On the second play, Steve Tolleson was called safe by the umpire after a steal attempt. But the Brewers challenged the call, and it was overturned.
The main problem with the replay system is that it requires sufficient evidence before being allowed to overturn a call. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen so far, there is no clear-cut definition of what is considered to be sufficient evidence.
A video replay might appear to show that a call on the field was wrong, but umpires in the replay center might not treat that as sufficient evidence and still uphold the call. The whole process is still much too judgmental.
Until the umpires looking at the replays let technology do the work and start making calls based on what the video shows, the whole concept of the replay system remains unclear and only invites further criticism.
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