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Bud Selig calls replay “remarkable”

Apr 16, 2014, 9:18 AM EDT

instant replay picture

This will bring scoffs because Selig has a history of overstating, understating and generally mischaracterizing things in somewhat humorous ways, but I feel like he’s mostly right here in assessing instant replay:

Selig called the rollout “remarkable” but wouldn’t say whether MLB would make any adjustments during this initial season.

“We’ve had really very little controversy overall,” Selig said Tuesday at the MLB Diversity Business Summit. “Everything in life will have a little glitch here and there where you do something new. And are our guys on top of it? You bet. But I’m saying to you again, you’ll hear about the one or two controversies, but look at all the calls that have been overturned.”

Calls by umpires on the field have been confirmed in 33 of 89 challenges through Monday and overturned in 30. For 25 others, calls stood because of a lack of “clear and convincing” evidence. I feel like 30 overturns in 89 challenges is significant and good. We really are getting more correct calls now than we did a year ago and that is supposed to be the point. And it is quite literally remarkable, to use Selig’s term.

Of course implementation has been clunky, specifically as it relates to managers’ challenges. They shouldn’t be in the business of deciding this stuff. Baseball should be and it should thus be the one initiating reviews. It’s a situation where the back end (the actual review) works well but the front end (starting the review) is lame. The back end is more important so kudos for that going pretty well, but man, fix that front end.

  1. renaado - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    Dang! You never seize to amaze me Selig! Everything is imperfect, trial and error still applies for this new system, yes there are blown calls in some of the plays this season but if the replay system didn’t exist today? Surely there will be many more than what we have now.

  2. clydeserra - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    I am more or less stratified with the analysis of replay. A few more cameras in all the stadiums and I think the accuracy can improve.

    The manager challenge is levels of stupid, but everyone knew that going in, I hope it can change, but its not the worst thing in the world. The time it takes I think can be cut down if the eye in the sky is working through the slow walk of the manager out to the field. We at home see enough replays by the time the umpires get the headsets on to have a strong opinion, I can’t see why the NY umpire cannot.

    the biggest problem with the replay is the rollout of the new catcher rules and the new transfer rule. Both of those make it seem like replay is a failure because they are badly thought out rules. The catcher one, I think can sort itself out, but the transfer rule is dumb dumb dumb and needs to change now.

    • spudchukar - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      Well it is close to “the worst thing in the world”. It is a phony, Kabuki theatre-like dance, that is embarrassing, that everybody seems willing to buy into. Hogwash, I say. Either appeal immediately, gauged by the “eye test” or forget it. If that means giving two appeals to each to so be it, anything to avoid the current spurious two-step.

      Craig put “remarkable” in quote, and maybe he was alluding to this too. The term “remarkable” certainly has undergone a definition change, as it now means “special” or “exceptional”. But once it meant something that was noteworthy, “able to remark” on. Given Selig’s recent fine of Farrell, his usage of the term makes it “remarkably” ironic.

    • moogro - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      The terrible transfer rule and the terrible lack of enforcement of the sliding lane are separate issues than replay. In fact, replay makes the need to demonstrate a ball transfer to the other hand on bobbled balls superfluous, so I don’t know why they are doing that. Kozma? I dunno.

      Replay is indeed remarkable. As in, worthy of making remarks about.

      • clydeserra - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        right, I think the transfer and sliding lane are seperate issues, but have been conflated with replay because so many of the instances of enforcement have combined with replay. take those things away, and the replay system, while flawed, looks better

  3. babyfarkmcgeezax - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    They claim to have shifted many of their resources from the MLB.TV staff to the replay center. Hopefully that’s just temporary because MLB.TV quality has been absolutely horrid this season.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    I think the manager challenges are a bit silly, but I do think there needs to be a limit on the number of replay requests available. I watch how often players and managers complain when a close call goes against them. If they could request a replay review every time it would take over the game. And that is before we even consider managerial gamesmanship. I could see wily managers trying to “ice the closer” by demanding challenges or some other such nonsense.

    In a baseball utopia we wouldn’t need limits, but I don’t think that is the reality of the game.

    • nbjays - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      I’m not a big fan of the “manager immediately runs out of the dugout and stalls while the bench coach checks with video replay and gives manager thumbs-up or wave-off”. That is wasting more time that anything.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        The ridiculous thing about that is that the manager waits until someone in the clubhouse has seen a replay on TV. So essentially a guy in the clubhouse, as well as everyone at home, knows if the call was right BEFORE the manager can even issue the challenge. Then we still have to wait for the umps to look it over, and the opposing manager to argue.

    • moogro - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      5th video umpire on all plays eliminates all this garbage.

      • jdillydawg - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:34 PM

        Let’s just put all the umps in the booth and have them watch the game like us at home. They can have buzzers like on Jeopardy and vote safe or out. Majority rules. Seriously, that’s no dumber than what’s in play right now. Actually, nothing is more unnecessary than instant replay. Period.

  5. pbsenerchia - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    “I feel like 30 overturns in 89 challenges is significant and good.”

    Why? What if 29 of them were overturned incorrectly?

    • paperlions - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      Feel free to find a single incident of an incorrectly over-turned call. If replay messed up a correct call, we would have all heard about it.

      • pbsenerchia - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      • blabidibla - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        Technically, this was not “overturned incorrectly.” It was upheld incorrectly.

      • pbsenerchia - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        That’s funny.

      • blabidibla - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        I agree they got that one call wrong, but the above stats are clearly defined and didn’t account for incorrectly upheld calls.

      • paperlions - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        Exactly. The point isn’t that they have fixed all errors, just that they haven’t created new errors via replay.

    • blabidibla - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      They weren’t.

      • pbsenerchia - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:13 AM

        You’re missing the point. The fact that a certain number of calls were overturned isn’t, by itself, good. Overturning clearly missed calls (Galarraga’s (sp?) perfect game) is good, but calling a catch a non-catch after an outfielder catches the ball, runs 10 steps, and then drops the transfer, is clearly NOT good.

      • blabidibla - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        That’s not the failure of replay, that’s the failure of a revised definition of a catch. Replay is has made those calls correctly by rule. The rule needs to be reworked.

      • pbsenerchia - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        That doesn’t matter; the point is that it isn’t a good outcome, and the quoted statement said it was. I took issue with the statement that the number of calls overturned was a good thing by pointing out that it isn’t actually so. I don’t understand why anyone would want to ignore the evidence in order to defend replay. Replay partisanship is really weird.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        That doesn’t matter

        It does too matter. The rule was changed this year, and the call was made correctly according to that rule.

      • pbsenerchia - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        So it’s a good outcome?

      • Francisco (FC) - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        The problem is you’re blaming replay for something that has NO bearing on replay. The problem is the revision made to the catch rule NOT replay.

    • pbsenerchia - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Fair enough, but still beside the point.

  6. mjames1229 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    I guess I want to know why 30 overturned calls in 89 attempts is “good”.

    Shouldn’t the highly paid umpires get them right the first time? They have one job and we consider a 67% hit rate on close calls “good”?

    “Good” would be 2 (or fewer) overturned calls in 89 attempts.

    • paperlions - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Because the vast majority of these calls are decided by 100s of a second and require simultaneous attention and focus on multiple locations in space….which physiologically impossible for the human eye….anything you are not directly looking at is blurry in your vision, even if you don’t realize it. Most of the replays require multiple views and viewings because the calls are that close….which is an argument for needing replay, not an indictment of umpires.

    • unclemosesgreen - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      You’re misunderstanding numbers and setting an impossibly high standard at the same time.

      To call that a 67% hit rate on close calls is totally misleading. 89 attempts to overturn calls happened, which means someone watching on tv in the clubhouse thought it was close enough to challenge. There were thousands of other close plays that the umpires got right, which is what they usually do.

      The umpires’ hit rate on actual close calls is much much higher than 67%. They’re unbelievably good.

      • Francisco (FC) - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        The umpires’ hit rate on actual close calls is much much higher than 67%. They’re unbelievably good.

        And yet all it takes is one game changing goof and we’ll boil them in oil. It’s tough being an umpire.

      • moogro - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        It’s interesting that most generally agree umpires do a great job under very difficult circumstances on very fast plays which are faster than the eye can see or the ears can hear, with a low accuracy percentage which is understandable, even commendable. But we want to get it right, so we use technology to ameliorate some of these errors. Yet there’s such a hesitation to extrapolate this discussion to a human calling balls and strikes from an off angle on a strike zone partially obscured by a catcher’s body. That’s an even more impossible, and happens every single pitch.

    • Bryz - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      To add on to what unclemosesgreen said, that’s only 30 overturned calls in 89 challenges. If you added in the close plays that were not challenged by managers, then the “hit rate” (as you call it) would be significantly higher.

    • jdillydawg - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:30 PM

      Because perfection is impossible. Yet we keep chasing it. Video killed the radio star, and now it’s killing sports…

  7. jm91rs - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    I’ve always wondered how to calculate a player’s defensive value when you’re talking about guys from early baseball. Have they always tracked putouts and assists? I know nothing is perfect and WAR is the best overall way to compare players, I’ve just always suspected that it had to be missing some things defensively. Also, I can’t think of any reasonable way to turn defensive range into a stat. That would make a guy like Brandon Phillips, who commits errors but also gets to balls most other 2nd basemen couldn’t touch, less valuable than the consistent guy that gets the balls hit right to him and doesn’t make errors. Someone help educate me on this stuff please!

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      per bref:

      Fielding Runs: Total Zone Rating
      Total Zone Rating is a fielding measure developed by Sean Smith and is used in WAR for all seasons prior to 2003. Total Zone Rating (TZR) is a non-observational fielding system that relies has various forms based on the level of data available ranging from basic fielding and pitching stats to play-by-play including batted ball types and hit location. As much data as is available is used for each season.

      When play-by-play is available TZR will use information like ground balls fielded by infielders and outfielders to estimate hits allowed by infielders. Balls fielded by outfielders to estimate their hits allowed. It uses baserunner advancement and out information to determine arm ratings for outfielders, double play acumen by infielders and arm ratings for catchers.

      From 1953-2002, Runs Saved or Cost are calculated for:

      Fielder fielding range
      Outfield arms
      Turning the Double Play for infielders
      Catcher Throwing
      For seasons we lack play-by-play data (pre-1953), we use information on opposition hitting, pitcher and batter handedness, fielding stats and more to estimate fielder opportunites and outs produced.

      For seasons where observational data is not available (pre-2003), we believe TZR is the best system for estimating player defense.

      This is for rWAR (or mistakenly referred to as bWAR)

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      That would make a guy like Brandon Phillips, who commits errors but also gets to balls most other 2nd basemen couldn’t touch, less valuable than the consistent guy that gets the balls hit right to him and doesn’t make errors.

      Quick dirty version, the player would get a lot of “credit” for getting to a ball most infielders wouldn’t get, and then get a little “demerit” for throwing it away. There are other links in the WAR article that explain a bit more. If you are interested, start here:

  8. Old Gator - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I think this is hilarious, all of it. Years upon years of bitching about incompetent umpires – including indignant cuneiform tablets to the editor dating back to Ur of the Chaldees, and cave wall plant pigment fantasies of wooly rhinoceroses trampling umpires while a club-wielding designated hitter wearing a Smilodon skull helmet stands by and laughs – finally forces MLB to institute instant replay, and now everyone wants to get rid of it! This falls under the general heading of “be careful what you wish for,” but that’s what you get for rubbing a lamp that’s ackcherley a sanitarium for neurotic jinn.

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      I’m happy to report I understood all of that without Googling anything.

      • Professor Fate - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Me. too. I fear there is no hope for us.

    • moogro - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      No one wants to get rid of replay. Just this silly system foisted upon us.

      • jdillydawg - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        I want to get rid of it. I think I’m pretty much the only one, but I want to get rid of it. In every sport.

    • jdillydawg - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM

      I didn’t wish for it. But no one listened to me. Now all I get to do is complain.

      And sadly, go to Google, cuz I didn’t understand half of that comment, but it seems funny!

  9. drewsylvania - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    It certainly deserves to be remarked upon, yes.

  10. chiadam - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    And what about the calls that should have been overturned but weren’t because MBL did not have the camera angles that I had in my living room? That’s what’s remarkable.

  11. jason9696 - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    It’s “remarkably bad” if you’re a Red Sox fan.

    • lilgurgi - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      Phillies fans as well. It’s remarkable how a play at the plate can be called wrong, challenged, and determined that the wrong call was right…only to have the Phillies send a question to MLB and receive confirmation that the umpires and replay both made the wrong call. Yes, remarkable.

      • clydeserra - Apr 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        or the giants and have an inconclusive challenge cause them to lose a run because within 5 minutes a wrong call was made and they have no recourse.

  12. youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Apr 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    The transfer rule is straight up dumb. End of story.

  13. stratomaticfan - Apr 16, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    its obviously better than what we had….but that doesn’t make it good. Need 5th ump in replay booth to correct all blatant mistakes and leave the judgement calks on the field. Use as much as needed. Take the managers out of the equation.

  14. mogogo1 - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Certain comments just make a guy sound old and out-of-touch. The rest of the world had seen replay in use pretty much everywhere else for years and knew basically how it would roll out in baseball. But, Bud Selig finds it all “remarkable.” Someday soon he’ll find himself in a store wondering how the price scanners work.

  15. jdillydawg - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    Bud’s right. Instant replay is

    Remarkably bad (like some umpires)
    Remarkably unnecessary (unlike umpires)
    Remarkably complicated (unlike umpires)
    Remarkably accurate, sometimes (just like an umpire)
    Remarkably annoying (unlike most umpires)
    Remarkably stupid (umpires are more intelligent than video)

    So, we’ve replaced a perfectly good system with a perfectly “remarkable” system.

    Actually, Bud’s not right. He’s high. No wonder they call him “Bud.”

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