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Why are there not more replays of on-field action on the stadium jumbotrons?

Sep 6, 2013, 1:40 PM EDT

Luke Bryan AP

Ever notice that you rarely get replays of close plays up on the jumbotron at the ballpark? Sam Mellinger tells us why:

MLB limits replays to once, at real speed, but not during an argument over the play and not in a way that might start an argument or create a negative reaction from the crowd. In practice, pressure and insecurity from umpires has created pressure from the league office that means most stadiums won’t show anything but the most mundane replays.

Mellinger also explains that this policy, according to some league sources, could be under review and he argues that, as a part of expanded replay, MLB should junk this stupid and antiquated rule.

Also of note: Mellinger notes in passing that there is an unwritten rule among umpires that if a manager or player arguing calls on the field uses the word “replay” that he’s basically going to be ejected.  Which is beyond stupid. And we think these people are going to be totally cool about MLB handing managers the rule-created right to challenge their calls via replay? They’re not going to retaliate, subtly or otherwise, when their authority is challenged? Good luck.

Larger point: any system which encourages the denial of reality or which, by design, prevents people from getting otherwise easily-obtained information, is inherently flawed and begging to be cast aside. This one is no exception.

  1. taylorgang24 - Sep 6, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Well said. I like the last paragraph. There’s umpire error in every sport. Don’t act like it doesn’t occur. Just put in a system that allows bad calls to be rectified. Fans aren’t asking for perfect refereeing, they’re just asking for a system that recognizes that refereeing isn’t perfect.

    • smoochytherhino - Sep 6, 2013 at 4:13 PM

      Amen. It’s monstrously annoying to be at the park and not be able to see any replays.

  2. runhigh24 - Sep 6, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    “Let’s appease the umpires and ruin the stadium experience for the paying customer by not showing replays!” – MLB apparently. Seriously, this is just another reason why watching from the couch is a better option.

  3. kopy - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    It’s dumb to pay for a ticket and then have to text a buddy watching on TV to ask which way a questionable call should have gone. Stadiums need to up their fan experience.

  4. El Bravo - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    They should play Titanic over the jumbotrons on endless loop. Isn’t that what everyone wants anyway?

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    How about this: do away with the umpires and keep the jumbo-tron. Show all of the plays, and have the managers sitting side by side in a viewing box or something like that. The managers hit either the “out” or “safe” button on each play. Keep one umpire around to settle disputes, but give them all the benefit of replay on the screen.

    Umpires are supposed to report what happened, not decide what happens, in a ball game. It would be nice if we could get back to that.

  6. aindik - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Anyone in the concourses, the suites, or some obstructed view seats can see the game on TV. Might as well put it on the jumbotron for everyone else.

    Or, better yet, put it in the At the Ballpark iPhone app immediately available to those who check in.

  7. blacksables - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Wow, the umpire hate is unreal. Let’s keep inciting things until some fan jumps out of the stands and finally kills an umpire.

    That’ll show ’em.

    • steve7921 - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Happens all the time at NFL, NHL and NBA games when they show replays right???

    • chunkala - Sep 6, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      @black sables – from your lips to someone’s ears, please. I don’t know how you can stick up for these umpires who are either clearly incompetent or simply betting on the games. To quote Chris Rock, “I’m not saying he should have killed her…but I understand.” Same goes for the umpires, maybe if this happened they would actually start calling the game on the up and up. Other sports could give a crap about their officials, why does MLB hold theirs in such high regard?

  8. jkcalhoun - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Set your wayback machine to Gene Locklear and George Steinbrenner.

  9. ireportyoudecide - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    It’s pathetic, pitch fx should be mandatory on every video board as well. In fact makes you wonder why you even have umps call balls and strikes when you could just get it correct 100% of the time instantly. Oh i forgot,

    Human Error, clap clap clap, Human Error, clap clap clap.

    • moogro - Sep 6, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Exactly. I love that we nurture fully-developed and co-existing two-tiered propaganda systems with reality and facts on one side (msnbc), and misinformation and emotionalism on the other (fox). Makes sense that baseball would want to copy that.

  10. Detroit Michael - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    If they showed replays regularly, then (1) sometimes fans will be less antagonistic toward the umpires because the replays would show that calls were correct and (2) fan reactions in both directions would be more muted because the replays would be routine, not incendiary.

    I do think under the current situation, it’s a bit untenable for the umpires though:
    Manager: “You must be blind. Everyone saw the replay and the runner was clearly safe.”
    Umpire: “Yeah, one of my crewmates just saw the replay too on the Jumbotron while we were arguing and it apparently does show the runner was safe, but under current MLB rules I can’t use replay to reverse the call, so you are out of luck.”
    The solution is both to try to get all calls correct and improve the fan experience, not to ignore replay for both purposes though.

  11. JB (the original) - Sep 6, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Big 10 football just added a rule where it’s up to the teams what they show, but they are free to show replays as many times in as many angles and at whatever speed they choose, questionable call or not…

    The tide is turning.

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