Good news for baseball fans currently living in the 21st Century: it appears as though Major League Baseball is finally going to expand the use of instant replay, beginning next season.

MLB caught up with every other sports organization in North America in 2008 when it started using video replay, but only to confirm or deny potential home runs. The newest implementation will be used for trapped balls and calling fair or foul on balls hit down the line. Surprisingly, and perhaps most importantly, video replay will not be used on safe and out calls or balls and strikes.

While I’m glad to see Bud Selig finally relenting and catching baseball up to at least the mid nineties, it’s utter ridiculousness that they would exclude safe and out calls from the video replay equation. I understand that video replay for balls and strikes would be tedious and really only serve to make things even harder on umpires, but safe and out? That’s vital.

If MLB is worried about video challenges interrupting games or extending them, simply do what the NFL does and limit the number of times a manager can request a replay during the game. In fact, no one ever complains about the instant replay delays in the NFL, NBA or the NHL for the simple reason that it ensures that the call is made correctly, so I’m not sure where baseball’s hesitancy is coming from.

What makes this all the more puzzling is how progressive MLB has been with its online presence and digital media. In fact, it’s almost remarkable that an organization can be so advanced in its use of modern technology as a means of increasing its market share, but would then shy away from using other advances to actually ensure that their product is legitimate and genuine.

I’m not being facetious when I say that I would love to hear a reasonable explanation of why video replay wouldn’t work for deciding if a player was safe or out.

And The Rest:

Today in shocking and appalling: Adrian Gonzalez and the Boston Red Sox have come to terms on a contract extension that will pay the first baseman $154 million over seven years. As everyone knows the Red Sox waited to put pen to paper on the agreement until the season was underway so as to avoid increased luxury taxes.

Today in Jesus is clearly on his way back to earth news: Jon Heyman wrote one of the smartest, most passionate pieces I’ve read in some time on why Barry Bonds deserves to be in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Put simply, “A baseball Hall of Fame would be empty without Bonds.” Fantastic work.

Adam Kennedy batted in the clean up spot for the Seattle Mariners last night.

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been placed on the Disabled List with leg weakness.

In all likelihood, New York Yankees reliever Pedro Feliciano will have to call it a season due to arm troubles.

I’ve been working on a post for a while now called What Managers Get Wrong, where I was going to go through ten things that managers do that they really shouldn’t. Scott McKinney of Beyond The Box Score totally beat me to the punch in his very excellent The Definitive Sabermetric Guide To Managing.

Michael Pineda nastiness.

It’s time for the fans of the Colorado Rockies to stand up and do something for their team, if not because Troy Tulowitzki has become the greatest player in baseball, then because the author of this story was clearly out of angles to write about the Rockies and suggested it.

What are the odds of a good team having a bad year?

FanGraphs takes a look at a strange phenomenon occurring thus far this season.

Johnny Damon talks frankly and earnestly about Cooperstown. Which reminds me of that joke from The Long Kiss Goodnight, where Samuel L. Jackson is all like, “I’m always frank and earnest with women. Uh, in New York I’m Frank, and Chicago I’m Ernest.” Sixteen year old Dustin thought that was height of hilarity.

Baseball Reference looks at sluggers in their late twenties.

Missing: Phil Hughes’ velocity. If you come across it, please contact the New York Yankees.

Finally, this has been making the rounds for the last week or so, and it would be silly to have a baseball blog and not post it, so yeah, here you go:

Comments (20)

  1. I really shouldn’t laugh, because our number 3 is having similar issues, but the Hello? Velocity? Phil Hughes situation amuses me.

  2. Doesn’t this happen to a few pitchers every year? And then it’s forgotten about by mid May? It’s only a big deal because it’s happening in New York.

  3. I hope so – re: velocity Dustin. Two of my fantasy pitchers have unexplained lower velocity this year so far.

    Plus, I am really glad that Red Bull is so damn rich and likes to spend money on stuff like that vid. NAILS!

  4. How is the fair/foul replay gonna work on balls initially called foul, and then ruled fair? Do they just play out close ones in case it is found to be fair in replay? Or just give the guy a double?

  5. i was going to write pretty much that same thing that tango wrote but needed help with the math, and got subsequently sniped the way you did with the managing thing. But of course, he’s tango so he did it way better than I ever could have.

  6. @ Spit: Good question. Assume they’ll use element of judgment or else only use it for fair balls becoming foul. I’m not too sure.

    @Grady: Yeah. I love thinking about things like that, then reading Tango and finding out he’s actually gone through and figured it out. Really cool.

  7. I’d be fine if replay doesn’t come in,because on plays that are close enough to need replay, both calls are pretty well equally deserved, and those types of things tend to even out over the course of the season.

    For fair and foul balls, is there any way they can institute the tennis hawkeye technology so the replay will only take about 30 seconds?

  8. What they really need is replay for ridiculous “judgement calls” like Bob Davidson’s phantom interference call last week. That stuff would never happen if umps knew they would actually be held accountable.

  9. Judgement calls like that aren’t replayable in any sport. (Flags in NFL, penalties in NHL).

    By the way, who killed Jon Heyman and inhabited his body? Was it Stoeten?

  10. Evening out? I prefer a little more accuracy when it comes to that sort of thing. And it’s not like it isn’t doable.

  11. “In fact, no one ever complains about the instant replay delays in the NFL, NBA or the NHL for the simple reason that it ensures that the call is made correctly, so I’m not sure where baseball’s hesitancy is coming from.”

    I’ve been thinking the same thing for years. It doesn’t make any sense except when you factor in the strengths of the unions in baseball. I get there is a ton of tradition and pride resisting change on this front too but I’m always surprised there is more calls from umpires in favour of instant replay for the fact is makes their jobs easier, takes off a lot of pressure and doesn’t change their paycheck at all. In any other profession, that would be a upgrade, not an insult.

  12. *sorry, replace is with aren’t

    “but I’m always surprised there is more calls from umpires in favour of instant replay for the fact is makes their jobs easier…”

  13. definitely don’t think replay should be on balls and strikes. the Umpire’s “zone” is one of the things that makes baseball so interesting. I wouldn’t want to take that part of the game away. Safe and out calls should’ve been in there though. I like the idea of doing a “manager challenge” thing with it. Maybe it’ll give the managers a reason to be there. They could even do a thing similar to the NFL where in the 7th inning on, only the booth can call a review.

  14. The Galarraga Perfect Game that never was should’ve been the tipping point last year. The human eye simply cannot discern b/w what is safe and out when it is that close of a call.

    There’s no reason why they shouldn’t have an NFL style challenge system.

  15. Am I the only one that HATES the NFL system? It slows the game down ridiculously and takes too long. I 100% agree with Scott, though. HawkEye all the way. Don’t make umps leave the field, just put it on the jumbotron and be done with. I think the only real question is whether the fact there could be a player there would interfere with the technology.

    As far as what to do…. Ground Rule Double? I don’t really think there’s much of another option out there. That’s the problem with instituting replay. If a ball is foul, the play is dead. If the ball is fair there are many different possible outcomes. It’s not like the NHL where it’s goal/no goal, or the NFL where it’s catch/no catch. It’s a very delicate subject.

  16. Video review for fair/foul seems like it would be a wast of time, unless as pointed out it was a HawkEye type system. Personally I just don’t find that there are all that many fair/foul calls that I get all riled up about…Safe/out calls on the other hand.

    I love history and tradition, so I kinda understand the leagues hesitancy to potentially remove responsibility/liability from the umpires on safe/out calls. But I’m deeply conflicted over this issue cuz as a fan who is often incensed by a close call that doesn’t go in my teams favor, or a call that costs my team the game, I really want review.

    Perhaps what would be best is some kinda compromise… Allow limited safe/out reviews (maybe 2 per team per game), and start by only allowing them on scoring plays? I don’t really have the answer. The way it is now without review I’m not particularly happy, but I would be equally unhappy if a review system was improperly implemented. Bottom line is that the higher-ups in the MLB have some tough decisions on their hands, and no matter what they decide to do with the system, it seems inevitable that you, me, or some other asshat will always be complaining.

    One final point that perhaps we should all be considering: Review has the potential to let cooler heads prevail, and thus it will likely decrease the number of highly entertaining Manager-Umpire screaming matches that we would get to witness over the course of a season. Is that something you are prepared to live with? cuz I’m not.

  17. “If MLB is worried about video challenges interrupting games or extending them, simply do what the NFL does and limit the number of times a manager can request a replay during the game. In fact, no one ever complains about the instant replay delays in the NFL, NBA or the NHL for the simple reason that it ensures that the call is made correctly, so I’m not sure where baseball’s hesitancy is coming from.”

    The problem with this logic is that you don’t account for the type of game baseball is versus hockey and football.

    If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you love baseball and are fully immersed in it. However, people who are on the fringe find it slow and boring. NHL games rarely last much longer than 2.5 hours while a Sunday night Boston v New York game can push 4.5 hours. Games like this push the casual fan away with every time called, step off the mound, or check on the runner. I think adding video review adds another delay to an already long and drawn out game and gives the casual fan another opportunity to change the channel. This probably scares MLB as they want to keep the viewer engaged.

    You can’t compare it to hockey and football; those games move too quick and ratio of delay to action is so small that the fan can handle it. In baseball, it’s just one more thing that drags the game out even longer.

    That being said, if they can have it done quick enough or find other ways to speed up the game, I’m all for it. But please, no challenging balls and strikes – that should always be a little subjective.

  18. My opinion is the same as a Scott Carson column way back; a fifth umpire in a video room, sorta similar to the NHL review style. If you want to bring it in incrementally, yeah, you can do scoring plays only to start like Rusty Shackleford said, but give each of the umpires a way to easily communicate with the fifth umpire, and then a whole lot less crap comes down the pipe.

  19. I think there’s a potential problem with the safe/out calls on force plays: how do you determine when the defender has possession of the baseball? When it hits his glove? When his glove is closed? How closed does the glove have to be?

    I don’t have a strong opinion on using replay in this instance, but I think the solution is still much less black/white than it’s being made out to be by everyone.

  20. A manager gets two challenges per game on anything – including strike three (offense) and ball four (defense).

    Once those two challenges are used up, you’re done for the game, unless the booth orders a review (like the above after-7 innings idea).

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