SBD/May 13, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Columnists Call For Changes To MLB's Instant Replay After Several High-Profile Misses

MLB can limit the amount of challenges a manager makes through replay each game
Following a few high-profile questionable calls by MLB umpires last week, several columnists examined the need for changes in MLB's instant replay system and the possible benefits. In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt wrote it is "past time to put a fifth umpire in a replay booth to make sure blown calls don't affect games." MLB can "limit the number of 'challenges' a manager can make through replay each game," but Haudricourt noted, "I don't see why you should place limits on getting calls right in a game." It is "crazy to have the technology to do this and not use it." Haudricourt: "I guarantee you the umpires would be strongly in favor of it, if not merely for the reason that every fifth day they'd get to sit in a booth and take a load off" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/12). In Seattle, Larry Stone wrote it is "absolutely ridiculous to have millions of people at home watch, in high-def clarity, a base runner's foot reach first base a step before the throw, and yet have no mechanism to overturn an umpire's out call." Just as in the NFL and NHL, replays are "needed to rectify the glaring mistakes that are occasionally made via the ever-popular human element" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/12). SI’s Chris Mannix noted, “This is so easy to fix. ... Let’s do it exactly like the NFL. Give managers, coaches, two challenge flags, if they get it right they keep their challenge for the next one” (“The Crossover,” NBC Sports Network, 5/10).

THE NHL MODEL: In Detroit, Jamie Samuelsen wrote MLB needs to "take the replay decisions out of the hands of the on-field umpires." They "clearly don’t like instant replay, which is completely nonsensical." MLB should "set up a control room just like the NHL has." Since there are "up to 15 games a night, assign five games to three different officials." When a close play happens, they "buzz the crew chief, take a look at the video and make the call." Samuelsen: "No more of this silly running into a secret cave underneath the stands" (FREEP.com, 5/11). In Ft. Worth, Gil LeBreton wrote in an "increasingly high-tech society, in an age with TiVo and FaceTime, the two low-tech blunders last week were inexcusable." Replay reviews in MLB and the NFL "need to be handled independently, much in the same way" that the NHL handles them (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/12). In Pennsylvania, John Mehno wrote "no system is perfect, but the NHL's is far superior to MLB's." There is a "greater commitment to getting the calls right." Even the NFL "has a better system, with a replay official assigned to each game and seated in a booth." That "wouldn't be practical in baseball because of the number of games, so an NHL-styled system would work better" (ALTOONA MIRROR, 5/12).

DAMAGE CONTROL: MLB on Friday suspended umpire Fieldin Culbreth for allowing an illegal pitching change in Thursday's Angels-Astros game, and YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown wrote the league has "taken the proper course." In a game that "demands accountability and transparency from its organizations and their players, that often insists on the same from the commissioner's office and the players' union, the umpires are to be held to the same standard." There should be "suspensions and fines, and discipline should be publicized. Jobs should be at stake. After all, everybody else's is" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/10).
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