Obvious Bad Calls and the Case For Instant Replay

Posted on September 26, 2013 | in Baseball, Defects, Lean Wastes, Sports | by
cb bucknor

Instant replay should be widely used to correct obviously blown calls.

During last night’s semi-meaningless game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Miami Marlins, this play and subsequent call happened.

cb bucknor marlins phillies

Umpire CB Bucknor called the runner out. FYI, the rule in baseball is that the runner has to be tagged with the ball, the hand holding the ball, or the glove holding the ball.

This is the argument for instant replay – fix the glaringly obvious missed calls.

Arguments against instant replay include:

– “Hey, it will take too long to review the plays!”
– “If we review this, we will start reviewing every type of call!”
– “Baseball is pure and the eyes of the umpires on the field are all we need!”
– “This creates a slippery slope of fixing every wrong call to make things perfect!”

And on and on.

Look, there’s a big grey area between using NO instant replay and using instant replay on EVERYTHING. So many different types of baseball plays – where do you draw the line? Instant replay is used on home run calls and associated fair/foul ball calls on home runs, but nothing on the basepaths.

In my opinion, I like the fact that the umpires aren’t perfect…but when they are SO imperfect that it’s almost detrimental to the game that a call obvious to everyone else in the ballpark is not reversed by the one umpire in charge of the call, that’s where I have my issue.

One thing I’d love to see in sports is the use of knowledge gained and ideas implemented by other sports shared across leagues. I like the MLB draft eligibility rules (go pro straight out of high school or go to college and become eligible after your third season) and would love to see it applied to the NBA. I like the NFL and college football instant replay policy of booth reviews and coach’s challenges with the red flags (and loss of timeouts on upheld challenges).

So what could MLB do? Possibly manager’s challenges on balls hit in play (no balls/strikes), and allowance for umpires to review television feeds and video for up to 60 seconds to get the call right – any longer, then the call really isn’t that obvious to the naked eye (unlike the call shown above). If a manager challenges and the call is upheld, he loses his challenge. If the call is overturned he retains his opportunity to challenge and perhaps gains an additional challenge for that game.

I don’t know for sure – I also don’t know what all is being discussed behind closed doors in the MLB offices. Maybe they’re thinking about doing this. We’ll find out soon, I’m sure.

But as Professor Rich Kruger, one of my professors from Tri-State University, once said, “Tradition is fine as long as it doesn’t get in the way of progress.” MLB should heed his advice.

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5 Responses to “Obvious Bad Calls and the Case For Instant Replay”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    Dr. Deming liked to say that 94% of the problems are due to the system.

    That said, firing CB Bucknor and Angel Hernandez might be helpful in reducing majorly blown calls. When I heard about the first base play, I wasn’t surprised it was Bucknor, who, like Hernandez, has a reputation for being just terrible.

  2. Pingback: MLB Instant Replay | Time | Major League Baseball | Pace of Game |Lean Blitz – Do it better.

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