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Instant replay probably won't happen instantly

Jun 3, 2010, 10:41 AM EDT

Joyce blown call small.jpgA day after the Jim Joyce call, one thing almost everyone agrees on — myself included — is that baseball needs to expand instant replay beyond the current boundary calls rule. The problem is that it’s not at all clear how to do it.

An issue is whether or not implementing replay is a matter that has to be negotiated with the players’ union in the context of collective bargaining. It’s actually kind of vague. Article XVIII of the CBA says that players must sign off on changes that significantly change the “terms of employment.”  Is replay one of those changes?  I’m not sure that it is. Maybe for umpires it is, but my sense is that it’s not for players.

The problem, though, is that the last time replay was brought up — when it was implemented for home run calls in the 2008 season — the union was consulted and did sign off.  Not as a part of collective bargaining, but in at least something approaching a formal process.  Add that to the fact that Selig has acted as though he’s not totally in charge of replay — he’s one of the most notorious buck-passers in baseball and has often spoken about getting everyone on board — and you can see why someone, maybe even Bud himself, would say that this is something that has to go slowly and involve the union.

I think it’s highly unlikely that the union would oppose replay — they don’t want to see their members lose perfect games either, you know — but I have a hard time seeing them pass up the opportunity to be involved, if for no other reason than to not appear to cede power to Selig.  I think they’ll be consulted and will operate as though they are a part of the process. As they probably should.

But if that happens, a key thing to watch is whether Bud and the MLBPA treat it informally and just let replay happen, or if they treat it like other big issues such as drug testing (i.e. a
change”) and actually do some quick supplemental bargaining on it.  If they do, Michael Weiner will have to, by the MLBPA’s own rules, take it to the Executive Committee for approval, and usually that takes
Moreover, per the CBA, any rules changes like this wouldn’t come into play until next season.

But like I said, it may not come to that.  Bud — assuming he doesn’t completely blow this one and does nothing — will probably consult
with the MLBPA and negotiate at least in some way, shape of form. Whether that is formally, in a manner that would lead to a delayed implementation, or informally, in a way that would allow replay to happen quickly, depends on how much Bud wants to share credit and/or the blame for how the whole process works out.

  1. mike in MN - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    I find it intersting that this call is somehow more likley to get us replay, than the terrible umpiring in the post season last year. I get that this is more emotional, but it didn’t help determine the outcome of a game as much as the calls last offseason. No one is talking about the call that may have cost the Twins a game last nite, but this one instead. And, in the grand scheme of who makes the playoffs, how much money a team makes…..this call is meaningless. Funny how our minds work.

  2. Marye Blin - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Meaningless to you maybe.

  3. Marye Blin - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Meaningless to you maybe.

  4. J Rose - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    It’s a fine line using replay in MLB because everyone is already worried over the speed of the games. If you start allowing teams to replay every missed call, the games would take 6 hours. So obviously you would have to limit the amount of replays a team could have. But what if the Tigers had already used their allotment before the final play last night? Then we’re right back where we started.

  5. Moses Green - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Forgive me Craig, but I think you’re guilty of manufacturing consent here. Everyone is all up in arms right at this moment about umpiring, I feel that in objecting to the expansion of replay in MLB I am speaking for a lot of fans who just aren’t all riled up right now.
    The people who are riled up shout the loudest, but that doesn’t mean they actually hold any kind of majority opinion.

  6. Ryan S - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Moses – You may not be riled up, but I just don’t see how a sport can continue to let their sport be full of mistakes that determine game outcomes…especially now that technology is so good, and decisions could be made in no time. we as fans could see upon the first review that the calls (both in detroit and minn games) were clearly wrong, so it shouldn’t take a trained professional umpire or official scorer very long.
    I’ll take the 2 – 3 minute replay. It takes that long for arguing managers to get off the field anyway.
    One final point: in Football – which i would not call myself a die hard fan of – i think replay enhances the viewing experience. Watch a crowd at a bar during reply and everyone there is focused on the play, each fan feeling for a second that they are the arbitrator. It gets me MORE into the game.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    I love it when someone says “Bad calls happen all the time…they are a part of the game” LOL. If they happen all the time, then why argue AGAINST replay? It won’t slow down the game because you also need rule to stop stupid manager-umpire arguments that NEVER accomplish ANYTHING and slow the game down as well.
    It is a simple thing…2 managerial challenges and NO MANAGERS ALLOWED ON THE FIELD TO ARGUE.

  8. RobRob - Jun 3, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    This seems like a perfect case where an extra umpire in the booth would be the solution. He reviews the slo-mo, then buzzes down if the call on the field is wrong.
    On this call, there’s an acceptable remediation because the game would simply be over. But I think that’s going to be the sticky wicket. How does one reconstruct the play in the reverse? What is the proper way to resolve the situation where the player is called out when he was clearly safe? An automatic double, or one base, a la interference calls? Something else?
    I’d hate to have them leave it to the umpires’ judgment, since they’ve shown zero ability to handle that effectively. (Cases in point: When have you ever seen a player penalized for not avoiding a hit-by-pitch? When was the last time you saw a runner be awarded home plate from first base after a fan-interference double? Both of those are judgment calls by the umps and they never make them.)

  9. Codebeard - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    You’re assuming that MLB replay functions like NFL replay – which it doesn’t. The managers don’t initiate the replays. They can ask the umps to take a second look at questionable homeruns, but the umps are under no order to do so. And even then, how many calls have been brought into question since it was implemented? Maybe a dozen, two tops?
    Furthermore, you’re assuming that there ARE that many calls in the average game to challenge. Even in the NFL where the authority to call for challeneges does lie with the coaches, most hit around 10 challenges per season, just over once ever 2 games.
    In a bad game you may have 2 or 3 particularly bad calls, most games are well umped and have 1 call that will stand out (not counting balls and strikes, which would definitely not be in replay). You’re talking about adding 5-10 minutes, which considering you may have decisions that permanently affect the history books of the game, is a very small price to pay for accuracy.

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