Last month it was announced that there would be an expansion of Major League Baseball instant replay use and umpire video reviews of in-game calls, with some process similarities to the NFL’s use of instant replay.
The joint session was briefed on a proposal that would dramatically increase the number of plays that can be reviewed, currently limited to boundary calls involving home runs. The committee of Braves president John Schuerholz and former big league managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa that had been studying the issue presented its findings.
Instant replay will be very helpful in improving the accuracy of the in-game calls – not necessarily improving the umpires’ ability to make calls as they will still make mistakes, but at least providing tools to allow them to correct egregious errors in judgment instead of allowing them to stand (akin to allowing bad quality make it to the customer).
Today, instant replay is restricted to home run boundary calls (fair/foul, over the yellow line) but it is expected that the new process for reviewing calls – umpires send communication to central camera feed reviewers in MLB’s home office to review a call, the reviewers use video technology to check call, reviewers relay call back to umpires – will not be as big of a drag on the pace of game as previously feared and there will be a lot more types of reviewable calls.
This is all fine and dandy, MLB finally expanding its use of instant replay to make the game more accurate, but really…what took baseball so long to finally catch onto the improved game accuracy experienced by the other major sports through their use of replay?
“This is a historic moment for baseball,” Schuerholz said. “We have moved forward with a plan that would give our managers an opportunity to help control the calls that are made that impact their team, give them a better opportunity to see to it that they have an opportunity to win the game. It’s the first time in the history of baseball that managers have been empowered with this capability.”
Mr. Schuerholz, you say “historic” and I say “long time coming.” While I haven’t taken a formal poll, I’m pretty sure there are lots of baseball fans that wished this decision had come a lot sooner, most notably fans of the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals and the family of Armando Gallaraga.
“I couldn’t help but sense in the room the acceptance and excitement,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “People understood they were sitting in on something that was historic.”
Again, was it “historic” or “a sigh of relief”, Bud?
Major League Baseball finally realized they needed to prioritize the accuracy of the product on the field instead of the “purity of not adopting technology” or further extending the time of an average game that’s already far too long. The fans were surely already prioritizing it this way.
However, we’re not out of the woods yet – everyone has to vote whether they are on board:
The owners will formally vote on the issue at their next meetings in Orlando, Fla., in November. And the changes must also be negotiated with both the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association, although the use of review for fair-foul and trap plays was incorporated into the most recent Basic Agreement.
Apparently everything under the sun is an element for negotiation.
But – BUT! – do I detect a little Plan-Do-Check-Act (or Plan-Do-Study-Adjust if that’s your flavor)?
Baseball expects to have the new system in place to start the 2014 season, but Schuerholz admitted this is just the first version.
“It is a phasing plan,” [Schuerholz] said. “This is but the first phase. At the end of ’14, we’ll go back and look at what we’ve done well — what’s worked, what hasn’t worked — and make adjustments, and then we’ll improve it in the next phase, the next rollout, the second iteration. And we feel that by no more than a third iteration, we will have diminished to the most minimal level the number of incorrect calls that impact our games.
“It’s going to take some time. We’re excited about [what is] going to happen in ’14, and we expect to use it in the playoffs in ’14, perhaps in even an enhanced manner. We’ll add to what we’ve seen that worked during the regular season and make it even more useful during the playoffs.”
I do! Put together a plan, put it in place, see what works and doesn’t work, and make adjustments. Well stated, MLB. Now let’s see it in action!