The new instant replay rules: some quick thoughts


Apr 2, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (17) looks on during the third inning in game one of a double header at Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Cleveland Indians 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

For the Texas Rangers the new instant replay system has worked out well for them so far.  Ron Washington had a chance to use it yesterday when Ben Revere was off second base and pitcher Martin Perez made quick attempt to pick him off.  At first, he was called safe, but after review, it showed the Donnie Murphy applied the tag and was called out.

For the Rangers, that instant replay challenge only lasted 2 minutes and 18 seconds, which isn’t too bad.  I think they are aiming for an average of about 90 seconds.  One thing that does help the process is the the teams have a person dedicated to watch the game from various angle to help the managers determine if a challenge is needed.  For the Ron Washington, he has Joey Prebynski (assistant advance scout).

To help the process along, there is an 8-person umpire crew in New York working in Major League Baseball’s war room.  So far for the most part it is working and seems to be working well.  But there still appears to be some bugs to work out.

For example, the replay today during the Cleveland Indians vs Oakland Athletics game took a little longer than what most would expect.  The Indians coach Terry Francona, I know, I know..manager Francona!  I had to say that, I know it drives him bonkers.  But he thought the instant replay process took too long.

Below is a clip of the replay.  From that replay it is hard to determine the play and is understandable why the play wasn’t reversed.  Also, it would seem since it was a scoring play, the umpires spent more time reviewing it.

During this replay, the umpire crew was already reviewing another play.  That brings up the question what if there were 5, 6 or 10 reviews at one time.  Now that seems unlikely, but it could happen.  Also what if a review takes 5-10 mins because of some unforeseen delay, such as the umpire crew has technical difficulties or busy with several other reviews at the same time.

What I’m getting at here, where does that leave the pitcher and other players.  It could disrupt the flow of the game and make it tough for the pitcher.  Maybe if a replay takes too long, the pitcher is able to get a few warm up pitches.

Also, one thing that happened during the Cleveland/Oakland game, fans started to get restless.  That was one reason the instant replay system was developed.  Fans want the call right.  But, fans do not want to sit in their seats 5 minutes while the call is being reviewed.  This could be an isolated case and future replays will be closer to 90 seconds.  In my opinion, there will still be some plays that take 3-4 minutes to review.  Maybe by mid-season they will have all the bugs worked out.

So far the replay system has worked well and everyone agrees that getting the call right is the most important part.  There will be some growing pains, but they will be worked out.  Maybe some things will be tweaked, but so far I’m sure if you ask Ron Washington he would say he likes it.