Last season, MLB introduced extended replay review. This jump had old school baseball fans shaking their fists at the TV and shouting, “Leave the game the way it is!”
To most people, though, this was a no brainer. The NFL and college football, and the NBA have had replay for quite some time, and even though the systems and rules in which plays can be challenged and reviewed differ, the respective sports have been better off.
Replay in MLB Still a Work In Progress
The human element of enforcing the game plays a big part in baseball as well as any sport, but even though umpires like to think they are, they simply aren’t perfect. Therefore, if the intent is to try to get the close calls right, what’s the harm?
The harm is that no matter how simple it can be, MLB has found a way to make it complicated.
Upheld calls this year have stirred up quite the controversy. One of those upheld calls came on May 13th when Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins made what was thought to be an amazing sliding outfield catch at Dodger stadium. However, multiple replays showed the ball actually hit the grass before going into Stanton’s glove. The result should have been the Dodgers and Howie Kendrick receiving a base hit, but the umpires ruled the play an out.
Being that there was no way that the umpires could see for sure on the first try, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, or “Donnie Challenge” when it comes to review situations, challenged umpires to review the call.
After a few minutes of reviewing what should have been obvious evidence to overturn the call, the call was upheld by reviewers in New York and the Dodgers were left standing without a baserunner that they should’ve had.
After airing his grievances, Mattingly was ejected.
MLB later admitted that they had the call wrong, but that didn’t do anything to change the fact that the Dodgers lost a baserunner that they should’ve had, and ultimately lost their manager to an ejection. To add salt to the wound, the Dodgers lost the game by a run. Luckily it wasn’t the postseason.
The controversy highlighted that changes still need to be made to the replay review system.
For one, an explanation of the call would have been nice. No one knows what the reviewers in New York are basing their decision on.
Until MLB sets up a system that gives everyone a clear explanation, a manager shouldn’t be ejected. If someone who isn’t in the stadium can have a say in the game, and they’re allowed to hide in their little bat cave in New York without explaining how they made their decision, a manager should be given a little leeway.
Ultimately, get rid of the remote replay review factor. Even after getting ejected, Mattingly said he couldn’t blame the umpires on the field as the remote reviewer makes the ultimate call. “Obviously, that’s frustrating.” said Mattingly, “The call should be overturned and it isn’t. You can’t blame the (umpires) on the field.”
Replay reviewers should be on site at the stadium, should be visible, and should have to give the answer with an explanation to the teams and managers, broadcasting crews, and the fans. For all we know, it can be the Illuminati right now reviewing the plays. They might as well leave the review up to fans on Twitter.
Baseball has made strides in trying to get calls right, but the current system sets replay up to be more controversial than if the call stuck in the first place. If that’s going to be the case, MLB should just stick to not reviewing the calls at all. At least at that point, MLB will succeed at their speed up the game initiative.