No Way For Replay In 2011

The early part of MLB’s offseason was dominated with talk of playoff expansion and broadening instant replay. But between free agents signing and trade rumours spreading, proposed rule and policy changes began to take a back seat.  In fact, the topics became so far removed from the cockpit that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has recently announced that plans have been scrapped for this year

There continues to be fruitful talks about it, but they’re definitely off the table for this year. Really, I think that’s what we’ve been saying all along.

It makes perfect sense to me that wide ranging changes to the way that the playoffs operate couldn’t take place after the regular season schedule was already set, unless of course, teams were willing to be playing baseball in December.

What didn’t make sense to me was the slow down in implementing changes to MLB’s instant replay policies.  That is, until I learned who was on the committee to change such things.

Selig’s 14-member special committee addressing on-field issues will gather on Thursday afternoon. The committee includes four managers: Jim Leyland of the Tigers, Tony LaRussa of the Cardinals, Mike Scioscia of the Angels and the recently retired Joe Torre.

I’ll be honest here.  I have no idea where any of those four gentlemen stand on the use of instant replay, but considering their managerial styles, especially LaRussa and Scioscia’s, is it really a stretch to assume that they’d be against such things as objective truth in favour of subjective human analysis?

Big League Stew puts the ridiculousness of delaying full blown instant replay into perspective:

But to further delay what would be an implementation of wider instant replay after Joyce-Galarraga and a few more controversial calls last postseason? Well, that just doesn’t make much sense, especially when you’re talking about a league that features loads of TV angles for every game and has been progressive in some other areas of technology with and its apps on the iPhone and iPad.

Then again, given the arcane blackout rules that we’re still saddled with, maybe MLB’s continued refusal to adapt on the fly isn’t surprising. No one complains about the instant replay delays in the NFL, NBA or NHL — no, not as long as the call is made correctly — but leave it to baseball to figure that it’s an issue they can afford to keep waiting on.

Isn’t it remarkable that an organization that has used digital media and modern technology to increase its market share so effectively would shy away from using other advances to actually ensure that their product is legitimate and genuine? There is absolutely no reason for MLB to drag their feet on this issue.

Comments (21)

  1. As long as they still expand the playoffs in 2012, I’m good.

    • I can’t think of a single logical reason to be against it, but something inside of me doesn’t really want the playoffs to be expanded. Maybe it’s because I just think that a five or seven game series is just such a crapshoot, and I’d prefer to see the most legitimate teams competing and winning the World Series. Having said that, I loved the Giants’ run to the championship this past season, but they were probably not even close to the best team.

  2. I’m all for expanding the playoffs if it means a one game playoff between two wild cards the day after the regular season. I know this creates possible tie nightmares but those are unlikely.

    The only problem with the extra spot in my opinion is it does not help those teams who have missed the playoffs over the past 10 years (at least it wouldn’t if it had been in place). Toronto, Pittsburgh, Washington, Kansas City, and Baltimore would not have made the playoffs even with another Wild Card.

  3. Selig just seems so confused in that picture.

  4. jtoronto. while those teams may have all still missed the playoffs all those years.the thing about expanded playoffs is that it would change your perception of your season around trade deadline time and even in the offseason. some years those teams may have thought hey, we’re pretty close here. let’s see if we can’t land (insert intruiging trade chip here) maybe we can squeak into that wild card game and see what happens. teams like the jays wouldn’t have to think well can we get by both boston and new york (and now tampa). third place in the al east might mean something, that’s what expanded playoffs does. by the same token it perhaps allows more teams to convince their stars they don’t need to be traded to compete in september and beyond.

  5. That’s a really good point. I’d overlooked that too. It could be very dangerous then too.

  6. I would love to see the playoffs expanded. What about reverting back to the old 2 division system and awarding 4 in each division a playoff spot. Kind of like the NHL format from ’78-’94. I appreciate the importance and legitimacy of earning a playoff spot in the modern scheme but the season is so long for only 20% of the teams to be getting playoff baseball.
    As for replay, meh. I love the fact that baseball has maintained a certain amount of human error in the outcome of the game. Though I realize that a lot of money and personal accolades can be lost, I still think that the uncontrollability (If I may be so bold to invent a word) of mistake is a very tangible aspect of the game. Leave the cameras for fair/foul calls and homeruns but keep them out of the strike zone and off the base paths.

  7. I hate the idea of expanded playoffs. I mean, why the hell have a 162-game marathon season if you’re going to let half the teams into the playoffs? I just think because baseball is inherently so evenly matched, you’ll see terrible teams winning the World Series.

  8. You mean like the Giants in ’10 or the Cardinals in ’06, neither of whom seemed like they could finish 4th in the AL East?

    Maybe instead of an expanded playoff, how about a balanced playing schedule?

  9. Why do you love the amount of human error? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

  10. If you expand the playoffs, then I’d prefer they shorten the regular season. I can watch baseball all year round, but a 1 game playoff between wild cards seems like too much of a crapshoot, and adding another playoff series would get the season going into mid-November. God help any Twins fans if they make it to the World Series.

    As for replay, didn’t they implement the homerun replay thing mid-season? Why can’t they do that here? I’m not for replay in all cases, but fair/foul is cool with me.

  11. Human error teaches. You ever hear a pro athlete remark about how he can “only control what he can control?” If an umpire makes a bad call that’s part of the game and he understands that’s something he has to work through. Just like weather. Just like a bunch of mayflys climbing on your skin while you pitch to the meat of the Cleveland Indian order in an important moment of the ALDS (JOBA!!). It’s part of the game, always has been. But, because cameras have been introduce and can tell us somebody is wrong that’s a positive thing? I don’t believe it. The game is still just a game, what’s with the obsession over getting everything right? Mistakes happen by umpires just like errors by a fielder, just like a rain storm in the top of the 5th in Detroit, just like mayflys on a humid fall evening, let them be a part of the game and play through them.

    • I think the idea of competition, at least to me, connotes that there’s an even playing field between competitors, or at the very least, as even as possible playing field. MLB can’t dictate nature, but it can ensure that each team receives the same equal enforcement of the rules of the game. To want human error to be a part of that goes against the entire nature of fair competition.

  12. I think you’re right Parkes, but there’s always this irrational half of me that doesn’t like the idea of a camera making all the calls.

    If that happened, managers wouldn’t argue with umpires, we couldn’t see player tirades; which, when you think about it, is a very real (and entertaining) part of the game. No longer would be the days of turning your hat backwards and kicking dirt onto the ump’s shoes.

  13. I wonder about how they’ll deal with the logistics of instant replay.
    Let’s say a guy’s on first, and there’s a screamer down the line. The ump calls it foul, so the runner stays put. Then there’s a challenge (or whatever they decide to do) and it’s decided the ball was fair. Where do you put the runner? Kind of opens up a different can of worms. There’s probably some way to work that out though.
    As for the safe/out or balls and strikes, no way. Most of the time it’s hard enough to tell on the really close plays even with slow-motion. Let’s just have a decision made and move on. Imagine how long Yanks/Sox games would be if there was a challenge or two thrown in.

  14. As far as my limited understanding of the NFL’s rules will allow me to speculate; I don’t think you can challenge a flag. Or at least you can’t challenge most “subjective call” penalties, such as holding, roughing the quarterback, etc. So that leaves a large window for the coaches to deride the refs for.

    Now HR’s use replays, obviously, but this is the most impactful example I can think of.
    If a camera replay of Jeffrey Maier’s reach over the wall on Jeter’s “homerun” against the Orioles had ruled it a double or w/e, would we remember Jeffrey Maier’s name? Would I remember that game at all? That play is listed as one of mlb’s greatest moments on their website. It maintains some sort of mystical quality, especially in New York.

  15. Its nice to know that they are at least talking about expanding replays. I don’t understand why its taking so long. Baseball seems outdated without an expanded replay system in place. It is ridiculous to say that human error is part of the game. If you can limit human error, why not? I’m sure the MLB doesn’t enjoy when bad calls or mistakes happen. We have the technology to limit them. They don’t even need to worry about it. All the other sports already worked out how to make it work.

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