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The NHL’s replay system can be a model for baseball

Jun 3, 2012, 12:44 PM EDT

Joyce blown call

I still sort of like the idea of replay officials on-site at every game, but I’d be totally cool with a centralized system, the likes of which baseball is reportedly considering implementing next year.

Today Wendy Thurm of Baseball Nation looks at the closest analog — the NHL’s system — and talks about how it could easily serve as a model for baseball.  And not just to overturn bad calls, but to serve as an eye in the sky to monitor player, coach and umpire conduct and performance.

Is it a perfect example? I don’t know, but I do know this: talking about what might work and trying to get the best system possible beats the heck out of dismissing replay as something no one is all that interested in.

  1. jjpileggi - Jun 3, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    As long as Bud Selig is in charge, assume that video replay will never work as well as it does in the NHL.

    John Pileggi

  2. ralphdibny - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    I was at last night’s Astros game, which had a perfect example of everything wrong with instant reply in baseball. A Martinez hit to left field was ruled a double, despite the funny bounce the ball took, which indicated that it hit not the wall, but a railing; in other words, it should have been a home run. After Brad Mills complained, the umps left the field to review the play, which took FOREVER. The Astros were in the middle of a rally, but the life was sucked out of it by the interminable delay. The Reds pitcher had a chance to catch his breath, etc. The reason it took so long? The camera man hadn’t been able to follow the flight of the ball, so there was no good footage of where the ball actually hit. So the umps couldn’t change the call. IR works in football in part because there are a lot more cameras at a football game. Accurate replay in baseball would require completely changing the way the game is filmed, and I don’t see the owners ponying up that kind of money.

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    The NHL’s system certainly seems to work. Most reviews take a couple of minutes, close plays take maybe five or so. Is adding something like an extra 10 minutes to the length of games really a big deal? If they start getting more calls right then I don’t think it is.

    • sabatimus - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Well said. I’m just not sure Selig will ultimately sign off on this. Baseball purists will cry foul (no pun intended) at having another ump in a replay booth off the field. But then, purists still cry foul at the DH rule, the raising of the mound, etc…so I think the best thing to do is increase the integrity of the game by getting more calls right.

      The last thing anyone wants is to have officiating like the NBA, which is so full of collusion, corruption, and downright idiocy that the game is painful to watch.

  4. randygnyc - Jun 3, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Get it right, as often as possible, at all costs.

    • Gonzo - Jun 3, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      You want a computer calling balls and strikes? That’s what it sounds like.

      • mplsjoe - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:42 PM

        I want a computer calling balls and strikes, if the computer will get the call right.

      • Gonzo - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

        Not me. i like the human element. Replay on homers and fair/foul balls are fine by me.

      • natstowngreg - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:24 PM

        This is what is known as a red herring. No one is proposing having computers calling balls and strikes. At least, no one serious.

      • mplsjoe - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:33 PM

        Just to be clear, I’m quite serious – I want computers calling balls and strikes.

      • lanflfan - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

        I’d like to see umpires graded by using a computer to evaluate their calls.

        I knew the strike zone pretty well when I was playing little league, and it feels like those guys gave a more consistent strike zone than their higher paid (and trained) comrades do now. It’s a crap shoot most nights, and I have to question umpire consistency with so many MLB catchers doing the same thing right now.

  5. vanmorrissey - Jun 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    If MLB has MLB.TV available to anyone willing to pay for it then it should, by definition, have access to all games with multiple angles available and anyone with the right equipment, and since the games are MLB owned and sanctioned they do, can have the capability for immediate replay at whatever speed is necessary from any location anywhere. So don’t tell us it can’t be done and the cost should not be an issue. Spend a little money or charge each club $200,000 a year, chump change for what MLB makes in a year, and you could more than cover any additional costs.

  6. chumthumper - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    It’s too bad the human element runs the gamut from “Oops, I missed it.” to “I’ll call it any damn way I please.”

  7. sbtc22 - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    1: NHL only reviews goals. MLB reviews home runs.

    2: How does MLB review home runs now? Does Ms. Thurm address why the replays take so long in baseball?

    Perhaps this article might shed some light on the MLB Review System before writing articles that describe what is already in place!

  8. lanflfan - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    NHL-style replay is most definitely needed. I don’t buy a lack of TV cameras at a MLB game, but if that’s the case add more fixed cameras to areas that figure to have questions (home plate & bases, foul lines, tricky outfield wall areas, etc).

    A maximum time limit, like the NFL has, is also needed. I’d say five minutes, and as people get used to it, you may be able to get down to 3 minutes.

    I like the human element but right now said humans are making calls that look more like human excrement. Umpires need a punch in the gut to refocus, re-motivate or retire.

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