Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Making Instant Replay Better

The word is out from Major League Baseball that it wants to do what it can to shorten games. They have been looking at speeding up the game by eliminating things that "waste" time. I am all for that, except when it is a necessary part of the game they eliminate like actually pitching all four pitches on an intentional walk.

I'd like to start by addressing the biggest waste of time, by far, that there is in baseball: the instant replay system. I have here a five point revision to replay that should not only greatly shorten the amount of time it takes, it should also eliminate several points of nonsense along the way.

First, I'd like to share the one and only basis for instant replay that there is: to get the call right. Yup, that's correct. The call needs to be right. I'd also like to put out there up front that my five points need to be taken as a whole, so you might not understand a point until you've read all five.

Point 1: Eliminate New York as the replay center. I notice consistently on TV that the broadcasters can get the call right with help from the techs in the TV truck before NY even knows it's getting a phone call. For this reason alone NY is not needed, except for maybe as backup or support on really tough issues.

Point 2: Every ballpark should have its own replay booth. Those in the replay booth would watch the game live, first hand, with the naked eye from a distance close enough to see the game. In a good percentage of cases they could know even before a play has finished that it might be reviewed. Think about the runner rounding third and here's the throw. Or a close play at a base that you can see coming. The replay officials can be on top of the review within seconds.

Point 3: Eliminate the "red hanky" manager challenge system. It is a grotesquely stupid rule that comes from the NFL, as are most NFL rules that make their way into baseball. The challenge system fails because if the manager's challenge is not upheld in, let's say, the first inning, he is penalized by not being allowed further challenges until the end of the game. And this undermines the very basis of instant replay - to get the call right! "Hey, you know, because of the bad challenge you made in the first inning, we are determined to NOT GET THE CALL RIGHT for you, jackass manager, until the end of the game. No matter how blatantly we blow a call. Sorry, dude." All calls need to be right.

Point 4: Allow the replay booth to initiate its own review challenge. The replay officials that are observing the game can tell with their eyes that a call is close. If an umpire can make an immediate call on the field, a replay official can initiate an immediate review in the booth. He can notify the umpire immediately that the play is under review. No need to wait the 30 seconds for a manager to make up his mind.

Point 5: (This is the best point of all.) Each team has a TV rep in the replay booth to offer up their best "x" number of video clips within a "y" second time limit ("x" and "y" to be determined). This would give each team not only immediate input, but the incentive to make advances in video technology that will only help the replay system in the future. And with immediate input based on high technology, a decision can easily be made before the current 30 second limit that managers have.

In the mean time, I'd love to see a manager go off on the replay officials in New York when they botch a review, yelling at the camera with the red light on.