MLB: Instant Replay Debate Revisited

Brandon HeikoopSenior Analyst IJune 22, 2008

This comes as a reflection to a recent Rosenthal column which sources a 'high-ranking MLB official' whom asserts that "it is 'very' realistic to expect that MLB will introduce replay on boundary calls sometime in August. The reasoning: If MLB can get the proper system in place by then, why wait?"

I have already come out and suggested that I do not believe MLB should implement instant replay. To me, it just opens a can of worms. As I mentioned in a previous article, "Where would it stop and how could one justify using this technology for an occasional instance when there is a multitude of other mistakes made throughout a game?"

With that in mind, according to USA Today, MLB is going forward with instant replay on 'boundary calls'. This, according to the USA Today article would "include whether a home run clears an outfield wall or if a potential home run is fair or foul."

Yes, only home runs! Why not make it 'home runs which affect the outcome of the game'?

Tom Verducci discusses the issue as if it is a non-issue. But again, he only discusses home runs. Verducci then refers to the laughable response that those against instant replay are worried about robots taking over the game.

To me, it is more about opening up instant replay to issues which matter and occur a lot more frequently. Of course, this issue is ignored by those who feel that upwards of 10 calls a year need to be reversed and one or two of 2430 games be altered by a reversed home run call.

The problem is, people are so enamored with home runs, that they agree with Verducci, and others I have sourced (Rosenthal, Chuck). Simply put, do a search on for Instant Replay and as of this afternoon (June 19, 2008), there are already 188 News Reports on this topic for 2008 alone. The majority of these are in favor of instant replay being implemented.

Colorado Rockies, for example, are for instant replay because of a few home run calls from last season. According to the report on,

None of the Rockies' players interviewed felt replay was a bad idea. Helton said it would probably be smart to wait until next year, but having it would be better than not. The closest to a dissenting opinion was, well, not that close.

Although admittedly, those interviewed were uncertain if instant replay would reverse each of the calls. Interestingly, these same players do not say anything about the blown call at home in last year's wild card playoff with the Padres.

Remember, when Matt Holliday 'touched' the plate? A play that actually had an affect on the outcome of a meaningful game.

Similarly, Michael Cuddyer and the Minnesota Twins support the decision to implement instant replay. Cuddyer's rationale? Personal accolades,

"I would have had 25 homers and 110 RBI that season," Cuddyer added. "But who is counting?"

Is it safe to say that Cuddyer would be in favor of instant replay being implemented on the approximately six percent of missed strikes or balls from that season?

Yes, that would be 150+ instant replays. Would that not make a difference in the outcome of a single game? What about for Cuddyer's personal accolades?

That is to say, Cuddyer is complaining about the result of one call out of 505 balls he put in play. That would make me think it is obvious that he would be pro-instant replay for the 150+ miss-called pitches, right?

I suppose it depends whether it was going to have a positive or negative outcome.

Where the story takes an interesting turn is with Mike Jacobs of the Florida Marlins. Jacobs claims that instant replay should be used for what MLB intends to use it for, 'boundary calls'. Laughably, according to Jacobs,

"I don't think they you should do it on plays at the plate, or on the bases. I think there should definitely be a judgment call on that."


Jacobs, too, had the misfortune of having a would-be homer ruled a double. At Dolphin Stadium on May 7, Jacobs had a long drive to right carom off the railing in right-center.

Now it makes sense why Jacobs is on that side of the fence, he has had a call negatively affect him. Did it negatively affect the outcome of the game? In a word, no.

The Marlins won the game 6-2. In other words, the difference between Jacobs getting the home run call and not getting the home run would have resulted in a single run. Which means the Marlins would have won 7-2. So instead of never trailing, the Marlins would have been, well, never trailing.

But according to Jacobs,

"Bottom line is those are tough calls. If they are not sure, they need to check."

Those are the only tough calls? What about plays at first where the umpire is to concentrate on the ball, the first basemen's foot, and the foot of the runner?

Admittedly, the umpires more often than not get the correct call, but how many times do we see a player throw his helmet in dismay? Now lets check out each one of those with instant replay, because, I mean, 'we have the technology'.

The voice of reason? Charlie Manuel, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies claims that calls should remain a matter of human discretion. Although Manuel does conclude that the bottom line is getting the call right, and who could argue with that?

BallHype: hype it up!


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