Replay Coming In 2014! No, Really, We Mean It This Time!

Dilip Vishwanat

For the last four or five years, MLB has been promising replay review. They're promising it again. Will they keep the promise this time?

Major League Baseball Executive Vice President Joe Torre told a gathering of writers Tuesday that expanded replay review is coming in 2014:

Of the move toward additional video-review protocols, Torre said MLB is "pretty confident we'll have it in place for 2014."

Presently, the system in place allows for video review of home-run calls. However, MLB is likely considering broadening replay rules to include fair-foul calls down the lines and "trap" plays on balls hit in the air.

"Pretty confident." Read that Torre quote again, and then read this Q&A with Bud Selig:

You have said you want to expand instant replay to include reviews of fair or foul balls and trapped balls. Will that expanded replay be in place for next season?

"I think we'll have it for sure. They're working on cameras in all the ballparks. We need the right cameras. Should we have them by next year? We'd better."

That sounds just like what Torre said! So we're going to have replay for sure, right?

Unfortunately, that Selig quote is from October 13, 2012 and referred to this season. You don't see any replay review in place other than for home runs, do you? Nope, me either.

Both of those quotes mention fair/foul and caught/trapped; I would add safe/out to those calls, as that's the single most important thing that could be adjudged by replay review.

Seriously, this can't be that hard. The NFL, NBA and NHL have had replay review systems of various types in effect for years, with few if any complaints, and the reviews have accomplished their task: to make sure that the results on the field of play reflect what the players actually do, rather than what a few men wearing stripes or black or blue shirts think they did.

I was an advocate for a fifth umpire on each crew who would serve as replay official in the press box, but that's likely too expensive a choice for MLB to make. Instead, they should adopt the NHL's system -- a central place, likely at MLB Network headquarters in New Jersey, where trained personnel (perhaps, at first, retired umpires) would be available to review calls. You'd have to install a communication system of some sort at each ballpark, but that should be easy enough. It would get the calls right, not take too much time -- at least no more than the ridiculous manager arguments we have now -- and virtually eliminate ejections.

Seriously (yes, I keep saying seriously, because seriously, this is getting to be a joke), it's time to get this done. We've already lost a perfect game to bad umpiring, as well as possibly changing the result of the 2009 ALDS between the Twins and Yankees, not to mention dozens of other calls over the last few years. If Torre says 2014, he ought to mean it this time.

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