I am not opposed to instant replay. That’s probably unsurprising to those of you who know me as a relatively “modern” baseball fan, what with the saber nerdery and whatnot. The technology exists to get calls right, so let’s get ’em right.
Sure, I have my beefs, though, mostly with the arbitrary contours of what can and cannot be reviewed (you’re already looking at the play! Just get it right!) and the time it takes to execute a review (if you can’t figure it out within 60 seconds, max, the call stands).
My other big beef with instant replay, though, is not actually with the system, but our visibility into it.
I grow frequently frustrated by the fact that I cannot tell just how the standard for replay was applied on a given play, and why exactly a call was or wasn’t overturned based on that standard. As a reminder, it’s a high bar (emphasis mine):
“To change a reviewable call, the Replay Official must determine that there is clear and convincing evidence to change the original call that was made on the field of play. In other words, the original decision of the Umpire shall stand unchanged unless the evidence obtained by the Replay Official leads him to definitively conclude that the call on the field was incorrect.”
Too often, I find myself seeing a call overturned where the video shows, “yeah, that call was probably wrong, but I definitely couldn’t ‘definitively conclude’ that it was wrong.” And I want to know: what were you seeing that I wasn’t? Are you sure you applied the standard correctly? I’d like to parse your words, sir.
Well, soon, we might be able to do just that!
The AP reports that MLB and its umpires are planning to discuss a way to have crew chiefs wear a microphone to explain replay rulings as they are made. It’s possible the change could be made as soon as the All-Star break this season, but nothing is set.
The report has more information on the possible change and its link to the similar longstanding protocol in the NFL.
From where I sit, this would be a worthwhile change, especially if it can be implemented efficiently. Obviously no one wants to add even more time to the replay system, though I’d argue that whatever time this does add will not be dead time. In fact, it will often be among the most interesting time added in a given inning.