MLB: Video Review / Instant Replay Being Considered For This Season

Patrick ReadSenior Writer IJune 25, 2008

Joe Girardi might be happier if "hit by pitches" become reviewable.

Major League Baseball is considering whether or not to permit video review and has drafted a memo to the umpires' union, outlining the possibilities. Video replay might be enacted as early as Aug. 1

The rule change comes on the heels of a myriad of blown home-run calls, including one of the Mets’ Carlos Delgado’s homers at Yankee Stadium in May, and coincidentally, one by A-Rod, also at Yankee Stadium. Apparently it’s all a matter of give-and-take to the umpires, which leaves the game questionable to all.

Some have said coaches, like in football, should retain the authority for “throwing the flag,” while others contend that the umpires on the field should be responsible for calling for video review. 

How would one penalize a team for being overruled by video? 

In football, each team has limits on the use of video replay, and when video review upholds the call on the field, the result is a loss of a timeout. However, in the NHL, the referees choose when to go to video, and there is no penalty at all.  The MLB looks to use the NHL's style of instant replay, and their war-room style supervision.

Another question: what is a reviewable play? 

Certainly video replay should not be used to contest balls and strikes. Right now, coaches are discouraged from even contesting balls and strikes, because the game would be extended far longer than the already lengthy three-and-a-half-hour average time per game. Allowing for a review of balls and strikes would lead to boredom and a loss of interest by fans.  As is, when anyone questions the umpires’ strike zone, the result is usually someone getting ejected, including the pitcher

In the spirit of keeping the game exciting and limiting the time to a reasonable length, coaches should not have the authority to call for review. Nor should the field umpires have ultimate authority to call for review, simply because they will not want their calls overruled.

Instead, the MLB is considering enacting a “Video Review Supervisor” who would be positioned off the field, in order to deter any outside influences by either the fans, coaches, or players; again, like the NHL. 

The Video Review Supervisor should have the ultimate authority to halt play by pressing a button and turning on a light viewable to all, assuring a pause in the game for review. 

He would have a direct, wireless communication link to field umpires to ensure the call in question is made correctly, as opposed to field umpires just making it up as they go along. 

Limiting reviews to home runs, foul balls, and fan interference would also serve to keep games within a respectable time limit; and give the video review a reasonable initiation to Major League Baseball, allowing for other plays to be added as seen fit in the offseason. 

If expeditious, then plays at the bag, or plate, including "hit by pitches" (see above picture), could also be considered for review, making for one balanced and fair baseball game. 

The NHL successfully enacted video review, and one hopes that baseball will as well. Football? Well, that's a whole other can of worms that still has yet to be solved.


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