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July 19, 2010

It seems like a long while since writing about baseball here. I apologize for that and will get back on the subject now: instant reply in baseball needs to be further addressed.

I’ve tried to express my feeling about this on Twitter, but 140 characters is not enough, so let me try to explain myself now.

From the official Major League Baseball release: Instant replay will apply only to home run calls — whether they are fair or foul, whether they have left the playing field, or whether they have been subject to fan interference. The decision to use instant replay will be made by the umpire crew chief, who also will make the determination as to whether or not a call should be reversed.

That is how it stands now. If MLB won’t add an all-out instant replay system, then I would like to see them adopt an instant replay system that is similar to the system being used by the National Football League:

From Wikipedia: The current system began in 1999, bringing in the opportunity to “challenge” on-field calls of plays. Each coach is allowed two opportunities per game to make a coach’s challenge…The coaches throw a red flag onto the field, indicating the challenge to the referees…The referee must see “incontrovertible visual evidence” for a call to be overturned. If the challenge fails, the original ruling stands and the challenging team is charged with a timeout.

Clearly there are many differences between these two sports, most obvious being the timeouts. My suggestion for MLB? Keep your current system AND give each team one “challenge” that can be used for something other than a home run review. (This idea of mine excludes the challenge being used on balls and strikes. It’s too hard to make those calls – I’d like to see an automatic ejection for any manager or coach who leaves their dugout to argue them. Arguments like that only delay a game). Let the manager toss a flag, or use some other signal, and use the challenge. Have the umps review the play and whether the call stands or is reversed, the game continues on after the review. Baseball’s own “one and done” without a timeout being charged.

Why? The best example right now is the final out from the June 2nd game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians that robbed Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game. The story is old news by now, but that doesn’t fix it. Fans at home had instant reply on their televisions. The ump? Not until after the game when it was too late to realize he screwed up the call.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in questionable calls. There are many more examples and scenario’s that can be addressed, but what do you think: Should MLB allow managers one “challenge” a game to use on a call they disagree with?

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