On August 28, 2008 the use of instant replay was officially instituted into Major League Baseball’s official rules. It’s use was limited to the discretion of the umpires on the field who made the call in the first place. It was restricted to only plays related to whether a home run had actually left the playing field, if there was the possibility of fan interference, or if the potential home run was fair or foul.
For the past few years the idea of the use of expanded replay has been thrown around MLB as a possibility. In 2013, which should be known as the year of missed calls and bad umpires, the talk got a bit more serious. Yesterday all 30 MLB clubs, the World Umpires Association, and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) voted unanimously to launch the use of expanded replay in 2014.
Some might ask, “is expanded replay really necessary in baseball?” The answer is absolutely yes. Missed calls can cost teams important games that could possibly affect their record or eliminate them from the playoffs. The new system will also benefit the fans by keeping calls fair and their teams winning, Expanded replay also ensures the fans will be able to see replays of close plays from the stands for the first time. Up until yesterday’s decision those replays were shown only on television. As a season ticket holder for a MLB team I know how frustrating that can feel in the stands. I have even texted someone at home to find out their opinion on a how a play really happened.
Mainly expanded replay is just plain good for the game of baseball. The prime example from 2013 came on May 8, 2013. It has been called by many as the worst call ever. The Oakland Athletics were playing the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. The Indians were up 4-3 in the top of the ninth and second baseman Adam Rosales hit a huge game tying home run that was called a double by the umpire crew. After the on the field umpires reviewed the home run, Angel Hernandez, the umpire crew chief, still called the extremely obvious home run a ground rule double. The home run clearly had hit a pipe well above the yellow home run line. A close up showed the Cleveland second baseman say to Rosales, “that was out.” The Oakland manager, Bob Melvin, was ejected from the game, the A’s failed to score and lost a game that theoretically could have been an extra innings win.
Under the new expanded replay system the replays will not be looked at by the on field crew who initially had trouble calling the play in the first place. The play will be reviewed by a more impartial team of umpires in the command center at Major League Baseball Advanced Media headquarters in New York. The decision made by the umpires in NY will be final.
All in all it seems to be what is best for the fans, players, teams and the game of baseball. The new expanded replay will change the game of baseball for the better. In my next article I will be outlining the parameters and process of just how the new expanded replay system works.