Home > Toronto Blue Jays > MLB's Lack of Instant Replay Needs to be Top Priority

MLB's Lack of Instant Replay Needs to be Top Priority

Rauch was squeezed on two crucial pitches before releasing his inner Hulk.

Edwin Encarnacion rounded third base and everyone in the stadium and watching at home knew one thing – he’d be thrown out by a mile and the game would be over.

Home plate umpire Brian Knight must have also made that assumption because he emphatically called Encarnacion out at the plate even though replays clearly showed that his right foot beat Jason Varitek’s tag. The Jays lost, the Sox escaped, and the debate about the use of instant replay in baseball started again – only this time the uproar barely lasted a couple of days.

With Jeter’s 3000th hit on the horizon, the All-Star game in a few days, and the recent death of a fan at Rangers stadium, perhaps the continued debate about the use of replay has been lost in the noise. However, after the All-Star game festivities conclude the topic of instant replay needs to be readdressed. There must be a more effective system in place before the start of next season. The technology is available and has been tested thoroughly and successfully in other sports and MLB’s reluctance to join the 21st century has caused nothing but embarrassment for the league.

Opponents of instant replay point to the fact that baseball games are too long and that instant replay would only extend games. But what happens whenever there is a close play at 1st base or a ball called foul that looks fair to the aggrieved manager? He comes out and proceeds to debate the call, and if angry enough, will begin a tirade (while enjoyable to everyone) wastes everyone’s time and is simply meant to alter the influence of future calls. Those two minutes that are normally spent arguing a call could be used to get it right instead of engage in a tiresome ritual.

Opponents will then argue that instant replay is a slippery slope and it won’t be long before robots control the game entirely.

Who cares? Computers control every other aspect of our lives, so why should baseball be any different? In order to fashion a reasonable solution the use of computers to call balls and strikes could be limited to only challenges. Imagine, a 2-2 count 2 out and a runner on 1st base. The 2-2 pitch is agonizingly close but is called a ball – 3-2 count now. The 3-2 pitch again is unbelievably close but is called a ball. The manager, pitcher, and everyone in the crowd can’t believe it wasn’t called a strike and the inning is extended. One pitch later and the next batter drives in the insurance run before the pitcher loses his mind and has to be restrained by the coaching staff. Of course, this described the situation that befell John Rauch and the Jays last weekend against the Phillies.

Now imagine John Farrell has a red flag in his pocket. He can use this flag two times a game. He hasn’t used any yet and this call is crucial to the outcome of the game. He throws his flag and everyone looks up to the Hawkeye system to determine if the pitch was called correctly. It hasn’t been and the computer lets us know that the inning should be over. The meltdown and subsequent suspensions are avoided and the right call is made. The umpire was wrong but he’s human and as long as the right call was made all will be forgiven.

Next, imagine a ball is hit down the first base line and it looks foul. The challenge flag is thrown and immediately we can know if the right call has been made. It takes about 10 seconds and then the game resumes.

Finally, imagine a close play at the plate. The ball beats the runner by a mile, but something doesn’t look right about the tag and the ensuing call. The manager challenges and the call and a special replay team upstairs reviews the call. They have two minutes to decide if the call should be overturned and can only do so if the evidence is conclusive. They get the call right, the runner is safe, and the Jays have completed a stunning comeback against Papelbon and the Red Sox.

These are just a few of the useful ways replay could be instituted in Major League Baseball.

The technology has been in place and has been used successfully by many sports for years. The MLB’s reluctance to join them is baffling and their reluctance to even thoroughly discuss the issue is embarrassing. Here’s hoping the next controversial decision happens to the Yankees on what would have been Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit in his final at-bat in Yankee stadium before the All-Star break.

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Categories: Toronto Blue Jays
  1. July 30, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    Do you care if I put part of this on my web site if I post a hyperlink to this blog post?

    • Toronto Sports Fanatic
      July 30, 2011 at 1:27 PM

      What is your site and what would you like to use?

  2. February 25, 2012 at 5:42 AM

    Hi everything you say is true so why not use instant replay, its used in many other sports and sometimes adds to the excitment

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