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Replay system’s flaws rear head in Giants-Diamondbacks game

Apr 2, 2014, 12:11 AM EDT

Brandon Belt, A.J. Pollock

MLB chose not to institute a replay system whose sole goal was getting calls right, instead opting for a system that involved managerial challenges and strategy, at least until the seventh inning of games. In Tuesday’s Giants-Diamondbacks game, won by Arizona 5-4, we saw exactly what’s going to come of such a system.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy chose to challenge this call in the fourth inning. A.J. Pollock appeared to be picked off first base, but he was called safe on the slide.

The replay was deemed inconclusive, so the umpires will get to add this one to the “we were right all along” tally. Bochy lost his right to challenge, which proved big when,┬ájust a couple of pitches afterwards, Pollock scored from third on a passed ball. Cain appeared to get the tag on him on the play at the plate (sorry, no video for that one yet), but the Giants couldn’t challenge and the umpires have no ability to go to the replay themselves until the seventh.

Best to remember things like this when the inevitable stats about how often the umpires were correct on replay challenges come out. In truth, they were probably 0-for-2 here, but it will go into the books as a 1-for-1.


  1. Admin - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    Playing devil’s advocate but theoretically if the 2nd could have been challenged and he actually was safe then the umpires would be 2 for 2. It works both ways. Although, I do agree with you that they should just review every play and buzz down to the field if there is a reason to overturn.. typically at least 2 minutes before next pitch on close plays which should be enough to review most plays.

    • omgiants - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:51 AM

      Certainly lad, except for the FACT that the runner was actually out at home. The play at first I deem inconclusive myself, it honestly looked as close to exact same timing as it gets, although I don’t see why that causes it to conclude in an out automatically. This isn’t a guessing game and opinions don’t matter, so your “could have gone the opposite way” rule is irrelevant, the whole point of the replay system is to get out of that mode and get what actually happened called. We all saw the clip of the slide into home, we all know what actually happened. As if that was the only bad call we should be complaining about these past two games haha.

  2. tapeterson2155 - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    “In truth, they were probably 0-for-2 here, but it will go into the books as a 1-for-1.” Haha what a beautiful way to end this article. Gold

    • unclemosesgreen - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      True. But eventually the mysterious forces of BABIP and sample size will touch the umps’ replay stats.

    • forsch31 - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:38 AM

      But it is bad math. It was 1-for-2, unless the inconclusive ruling magically gets turned over in Craig’s system.

  3. normcash - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    As luck would have it (good for the D-backs; bad for the Giants) the first play was inconclusive in
    my opinion–he was probably out, but it’s really hard to tell. On the second play, he really, truly and
    indisputably was out…but the Giants had lost their one challenge. If the play at home had occurred
    in the 7th inning or later, the umps might very well have granted a Giants’ request for a replay review.
    They should consider the college football system where the refs are buzzed if they get a call wrong.
    The whole point of the replay system is to get calls right and help prevent unearned wins and losses.
    It shouldn’t be structured as a new element of managerial strategy.

    • thetoolsofignorance - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:21 AM

      I don’t know why they choose to make a game of getting calls right. No-one, not the managers, not the umps, not the fans, likes this. Stupid idea. Just get the calls right for Pete’s sake.

      • stoutfiles - Apr 2, 2014 at 8:12 AM

        “not the umps”

        Um, the umps HATE replay. Snowball effect that will eventually take them out of the game. Before you know it we will have pitch tracker calling all the balls and strikes, determining fair vs foul, and replay to confirm every call made on the field. Umps will be there just for the easy calls, and in turn they will all take huge hits on their salary.

      • thetoolsofignorance - Apr 2, 2014 at 8:17 AM

        Used properly replay will increase the job opportunities for umpires and officials. its short sighted to say that the technology will replace them. No one is talking about replacing umpires. We are talking about assisting them. People just get retrained in different areas to use tech as support to do their jobs better. Paranoia is the bane of progress

    • jerryb2339 - Apr 2, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      The problem with the pick off play is that baseball doesn’t have enough cameras. He was clearly out in the pick off play by one of the cameras fro the outfield (it was inconclusive usig the other two views). The play at the plate was a hugely blown call. You can’t fault Bochy: if his people said the pick off was a good one (and it was) then why wouldn’t he challenge it no matter what time it was in the game.

      • moogro - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        He was clearly out on an angle not shown here.

  4. azjazzman - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    Bochy made a strategic mistake by deciding to challenge a non-critical play early in the game that was clearly inconclusive and would not be overturned.

    His bad decision came home to roost almost immediately, when he couldn’t challenge a much more significant play that almost certainly would have been reversed.

    That is not a flaw in the system, that is a managerial error, plain and simple.

    • illuminancer - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:55 AM

      All of the angles on the TV replay showed that he was out. If that call is overturned, then Cain is out of the inning. The real problem is that Pollock was clearly out–if his foot had come down a second sooner he’d have stepped on Cain’s hand–and the umpire blew the call.

    • clydeserra - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:59 AM

      this is baseball. we don’t really have non critical plays.

      side note, how about in conclusive is not a loss of a challenge*

      *challenges are stupid

    • omgiants - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:04 AM

      You are missing the entire point, which is to get what actually happened, called the way it actually happened. The real problem isn’t even the replay system, it’s the fact that umps make so many incorrect calls in the first place. It’s not at all about the managers strategy.

      And the play he challenged was a few pitches before, not early in the game. Again, did the Dbacks manager feel the need to complain one single time, let alone think about challenging a play? Regardless of me being a Giants fan, I just desire fair games. Don’t you?

      • illuminancer - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:23 AM

        Yes, I do desire fair games and Pollock was out at first. He even said it after they showed it in the park. At that point Cain was at 79 pitches, and getting him out of the inning was a good thing. If you think a play should be challenged, then you challenge it; you don’t wait just in case something happens later in the game. It’s like saying you’ll never drive the nice car because someone might hit it. Keeping it in the garage doesn’t do you any good either.

        Having one call upheld on challenge shouldn’t preclude any further challenges, especially on a scoring play. Or better yet, maybe the umpires can get it right the first time! The current system seems to be more about appearing to do something rather than actually working to reduce the number of bad calls.

      • azjazzman - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:28 AM

        You are the one missing the point. The replay rules are what they are, the system has been agreed upon. If this was last year, the calls would have stood without any challenge possible.

        Given the system that baseball has, Shawon Dunston and Bochy made a very poor decision. There is no arguing that. You have to have a clear cut missed call or else you risk not being able to challenge later. Bochy used his challenge when he shouldn’t have and that wound up costing his team.

      • thetoolsofignorance - Apr 2, 2014 at 7:12 AM

        azjazzman- the challenge system is stupid. Thats the point

    • jerryb2339 - Apr 2, 2014 at 2:14 PM

      but it was NOT inconclusive if you saw the view from the center field camera (apparently local TV has that camera but MBL in NY doesn’t)

  5. kappy32 - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:20 AM

    Had Bochy been right on the first challenge, would he have been able to challenge the second play? Would he be given his right to challenge back had he been correct on the first challenge? For example, in the NFL coaches are given 2 challenges that they can use at any time except for plays that are automatically challenged (turnovers, scoring plays) & within the last 2 minutes of each half. If the coach uses his 2 challenges correctly, he is given a third challenge to use. If he gets even 1 challenge wrong, he is limited to his 2 challenges. Is the MLB system like that in where the manager gets his challenge correct, does he get another challenge to use?

    • umrguy42 - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      Yes, I believe it’s 1 challenge, and if you win, you get a second.

  6. thisdamnbox - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:40 AM

    Every scoring play should be automatically reviewed just like in football. Runs mean too much in baseball for nonsense like this to happen. If the call at home is corrected then the game could still be in extra innings. Or the rest of the game is played differently (a single run in baseball is a premium). MLB failed once again and merely humored the critics.

  7. Earnest Christian - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    Reblogged this on Earnest Christian presents The OpinioNation | Sports and Pop Culture.

  8. scatterbrian - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    Bochy shouldn’t have wasted his challenge on a pick-off attempt in the 4th.

    • recoveringcubsfan - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:19 AM

      Like jazzman, you seem to want I believe that this is about strategizing within the flawed system. It isn’t. It’s an argument about whether replay should be applied arbitrarily – MLB’s choice – or used to make the games fair, correct, accurate, whatever positive objective terms you want to use. The replay system right now is just a gimmick and as this game shows, it isn’t even a particularly clever gimmick. Look at it this way: everyone who saw the replay at home said “clearly, he wAs out. The umps blew that call!” Is that what MLB is after? Because it’s what they got. Saying that umpire ineptitude is actually Bruce Bochy’s fault is almost as stupid as the MLB replay system itself.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Wait, now the pick-off attempt was blown because Pollock was “clearly” out? I disagree with that.

      • pappageorgio - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        Gotta agree with the “Botchy shouldn’t have challenged the play at first” crowd.

        The managers will learn, just as NFL HCs have, it’s the first few games. It has to be indisputable to overturn a play and it wasn’t, someone should have told Botchy that. No replay system is perfect and managers need to learn to use the rule with it’s limitations.

        The sky is not falling. It’s the second game of the season.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 2, 2014 at 7:06 AM

      The problem with this line of thinking is that baseball is a series of [almost] independent events. A hitter could get a fan interfered double that leads to nothing, or a pickoff play at first can lead to the winning run. You have no way of knowing until after the events happen, so to keep the challenge “in the pocket” so to speak really only “works” if you save it for a run scoring play. And how often are those controversial?

      As Craig mentioned, many of us knew this exact scenario was going to happen sometime. Hell it happens in the NFL all the time. The system should be changed.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        If I were a manager, my strategy would first be to only use it when I am absolutely certain the call was blown, and I don’t think the pick-off attempt last night qualifies here. I’m not saying I wouldn’t use it on a pick-off attempt or in the 4th inning, I would just need to be certain I would get the call overturned. After that, I would hold onto it for run-scoring plays or for later in the game in general.

        Basically, I would rather have a challenge and not need it than need a challenge and not have it. That doesn’t mean there’s a problem with my line of thinking, and it’s too soon in the process to even make that argument.

  9. NatsLady - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:08 AM

    Torre said they will iron out “bug” in the system for three years. Hopefully, this type of situation will result in a review of reviews.

  10. dcarroll73 - Apr 2, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Aside from the flaws in this replay system, couldn’t the umpire crew have acted? Wasn’t the old rule (which I think is still in effect) that the manager asks the crew chief to review the play and if the ump who made the original call assents, the umps confer to see if any other ump had a good enough view of the play? I am pretty sure that I have seen calls changed with this. I have not been able to find a video of that play at the plate so I have no idea if this could have helped here.

  11. pillowporkers - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    All this tells me is why challenges should stay out of the games. It’s already ruined the flow of football, and college basketball, the last minute of the game went from 10 minutes to 15 minutes now.

    In baseball, it is very important the games stay in rythm. How many more years of challenges in sports not being 100% effective (or even close to 100%) do people need in order to understand that it doesn’t perfect the integrity of the games?

  12. jm91rs - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    It’s the first year. Every time something like this happens they will note it and tweak it in the off season. Eventually there will be a replay plan that makes more sense, no sense freaking out yet.

    • Professor Fate - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      You’re ignoring the simple fact that a whole lot of people pointed out the shortcomings in this system well before it was implemented. “Tweaking” after the fact isn’t a given, especially considering that the powers-that-be ignored the obvious flaws and plowed ahead anyway. I have a feeling MLB will need a rather large pad to “note” all the coming mistakes.

  13. chunkala - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    I don’t think you can blame MLB for the replay system, we know the umpires union stood in the way of major change here.
    Look at the NFL, they could care less about their officials, they even throw them under the bus whenever possible. MLB protects the umpires and it ruins the game. MLB umps don’t want to look like fools like NFL officials, so they stand in the way of a real replay system. In a MLB game, there are a max of 4-5 close plays that would involve replay. And baseball is by far the easiest sport to officiate, so even if 20 plays went to replay, it only takes 15 seconds max to determine the correct call. Football has so many moving parts to review, baseball has very few.

  14. eagles512 - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    The worst part is how managers will now argue more to buy time to see if they should challenge.

  15. blabidibla - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Ignoring the review process for a second, how did the home plate ump miss that call in the first place? He stepped on top of Cain’s glove, not the plate. Just an awful call.

    • jerryb2339 - Apr 2, 2014 at 2:18 PM


  16. skyway2ls - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    What is the point in having a replay system instituted in MLB if the umpires reviewing the plays aren’t going to do so accurately? It probably would have been more fair to simply leave the game alone, if this is what MLB has planned for the league.

  17. jerryb2339 - Apr 2, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    A change to the system: ALL scoring plays should be reviewed

  18. akgobears - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Bottom line is the runner was out twice in the same inning and ended up scoring….something is wrong somewhere….

  19. zdravit - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    This disastrous experiment will be abandoned after one year.

  20. sixchr - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I’ve reached the point where I’m almost entirely done with instant replay. 4 minutes for a pickoff attempt is ridiculous.

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