One Thing I Don’t Like about MLB’s New Instant Replay

Control room of MLB's replay bunker

In case you didn’t know, Major League Baseball has a new rule for 2014. Managers can now ask for a video replay review of a call that’s made on the field.

The umpires gather off to the side, put on a headset, and ask an umpire sitting in a bunker in New York what they’re seeing in whatever multitude of angles they can see.

Then they either uphold the call or overturn it.

And it really doesn’t take as long as you would think. I’ve seen it all go down several times now and it doesn’t take very long, which is great.

But that’s not why I don’t like it.

Here’s a play that was reviewed (and upheld) just yesterday:

Notice how calmly Ryne Sandberg comes out of the Phillies dugout to talk to the umpire. You know why he’s so calm and slow? Not because he still can’t process the fact that he’s managing a team playing against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, where he was a beloved icon as a player.

No—he’s doing that to buy time so one of his coaches can talk to someone somewhere that’s looking at the replay and tell him if he should “throw the flag” or not.

Ryne doesn’t look very upset. He’s very calm. And why should he be angry? It’s a simple matter of either asking for the replay or not.

The umpire doesn’t look frazzled either. I can imagine the discussion going something like this:

Umpire: Hey Ryne
Ryne: Hey blue. That was a close one, no?
U: Yeah, pretty close, but he was out.
R: You think so? 
U: Yeah, pretty sure.
R: Well, I’m not so sure.
U: So you gonna ask for a review or what?
R: Whoa, let’s not jump the gun here, I just came out to talk (looks over to dugout), I mean, it really was pretty close and I…uh…(sees thumbs up from dugout)…OK yeah let’s review this one.

I’m all for getting the call right, but as an old-school baseball guy, I like me some complainin’:

And of course, the best manager tantrums ever caught on tape:

All I’m saying is I hope that this new instant replay thing doesn’t mark the end of heated exchanges like these. That’s part of the game and if instant replay gets in the way of that, then that’s going to be a crying shame.

Maybe FiveThirtyEight will run an analysis showing the trend of ejections this season compared to previous seasons and see if there’s a correlation…I’d read that article.