Next Step in Instant Replay Long Overdue in MLB


Aug 17, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington (38) and second baseman Ian Kinsler (5) argue with second base umpire Paul Nauert (39) during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason MLB will vote to expand the current instant replay system in order to improve overall game quality. MLB, who has long been considered the laggards of instant replay, will only look to partially expand instant replay this time around. Why not do everything they can to make the right call? Apparently they are more concerned the game will run long that they are concerned the right calls are being made.

I understand baseball has a much richer tradition than that of the NFL and NBA but that doesn’t mean innovation isn’t welcomed. For some reason baseball has been resisting replay for years and only now are making an effort to catch up.

Is it too little too late? It’s never too late to do the right thing but as for “too little”? I think it is far too little. And time and time again the main argument behind the limited additions to replay is primarily based on the speed of the game and the impact to entertainment value rather than simply doing the right thing.

Some purists believe in the human element of sport,

“I’ll give you perfect officials when you give me perfect players” is something I’ve heard far too often. What does that even mean? That’s not even an argument.

Look, there needs to be some parameters on what can be replayed and what cannot. Otherwise it will be abused and really could kill the game. The speed of the replay needs to be consistently quick. Much quicker than it is now. Long drawn out replays will have a negative impact. I can agree to that. But that issue needs to be worked around and not be the driving motivator in limiting what replay can do to help the game.

This replay rule is particularly annoying

Managers will be allowed one challenge in the first six innings and two more from the seventh through the end of the game. If the manager wins his appeal, he retains the challenge. The challenge from the first six innings does not carry over.

Aug 17, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler (5) argues with umpire Paul Nauert (39) after being called out on an attempted steal to second base against the Seattle Mariners during the fifth inning of a baseball game at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Almost following a page from the NFL, MLB is adopting the challenge process. A team receives a set number of challenges and can potentially earn an extra challenge if the previous was successful. I like the idea of this but why not just have unlimited challenges as long as all challenges are won? That’s an easy rule to write and it’s ridiculously fair since it is based on appropriate and successful use of the challenge.

If a situation arises when a team keeps winning challenges and uses so many the game slows down – then the issue is really with the officiating not the challenge process.

The other issue I have with this is why are there more challenges for the end of the game than the start? A run is worth just as much in the first inning as it is in the ninth, right? I realize there is much more scrutiny at the end of a game but that’s kind of a cop-out reason.

MLB is moving in the right direction but let’s face it – they have a lot of ground to make up here. This slow phasing-in process just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

What do I want?

A Robot Umpire?

No, but kinda yeah.

What’s the big draw back if we can find a way to efficiently make all the right calls?

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson