The New MLB Instant Replay System Won’t Work


August 7, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; The umpires return after watching replay to call a home run for the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The new MLB instant replay system won’t work. It’s as simple as that. While this new system is viewed as a great change for the game and a good step forward, calls will still be missed. What this new system does is make it so that certain calls will at least be looked at, especially if it’s review-able.

For a number of years, pressure from owners, general managers, managers, players and the media has been mounting for changing the replay system. The first set of changes involved being able to review home-run calls and fair/foul calls. While that was a step in the right direction, the desire for more was still there.

After a number of blown calls and missed calls over the past couple of seasons, the pressure only increased. A number of times both Bud Selig and Joe Torre have said that MLB and the owners would take a look at the replay system and try to make some change for 2014. Most in the media took that as a way to get the media off the back of the MLB for the string of bad calls that have been taken place. But, MLB took action. A proposed expansion to the instant replay system has been announced, which will be formalized at the owners meetings in November.

While this seems like a giant step in the right direction, it hasn’t really done anything. The goal of instant replay is to get every call that is possible, correct. This system allows only three plays to challenge in the game, for both sides. So the most plays that can be challenged in a game are 6. Now some will say “Well football only has six challenges as well (three for each side”). But there is a fundamental problem with this new system: there is no auto-review. With the NFL, all scoring plays and turnovers are automatically reviewed, meaning there is less for the manager to have to challenge over. In baseball, no plays are like that, meaning if the manager wants any play overturned he will have to use a challenge there.

Football also has an auto-review system for inside of two minutes in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Baseball has nothing for the later innings of a game.

There are a number of flaws in the new proposed baseball system, but the most glaring one is they aren’t about getting all the calls right, only some.

On top of that, there is this top-secret command center in New York that will look over all these plays and make the final call, a-la the NHL. Another problem with that, the NHL still gets calls wrong.

It happens; no system will ever be perfect.  When this instant replay problem came to the forefront, I was a huge advocate for a challenge like system. What I had in mind was not what was proposed earlier this week.

It just feels like this new system is a step backwards and won’t fix the problem. In honesty, it will probably make it worse and more mistakes will be made. While outcomes shouldn’t be determined because of this system, maybe then baseball will realize they need to revamp this system once and for all.