Major League Baseball’s instant replay system, implemented for the current (2014) season, has had over half a season in place, and the reception has been mixed, at best.
Managers are now allowed to challenge certain plays on the field by utilizing a video replay system that is monitored at MLB headquarters. Once a manager decides to make a challenge, time out is called, and the on-field umpires don headpieces connecting them to the officials monitoring the game, and after close scrutiny, the call in question is either upheld, or is reversed. As of mid-July, there had been just under 700 calls reviewed. One of the earliest complaints (from players and managers, media representatives and fans) has been the length of “down time” awaiting each review, but that issue appears to have been ironed out.
Out of the approximately 700 reviews, 328 (or 48%) have been reversed.
Somewhat surprisngly, there’s been only one overturned call that resulted in a game-ending decision, and that was in a game between Pittsburgh (the victors) and San Francisco on May 6th. The 328 reversed calls average out to a missed call by umpires only once for just over four games, which is pretty consistent with research findings in recent seasons.
Teams are allowed to make one challenge per game, and if the challenge is ruled in favor of the manager, they are then allowed one additional challenge. If however, the ruling goes against the challenging manager, they aren’t allowed to challenge any further calls. This has led to some of the mentioned “delays,” as the manager awaits a signal from his dugout as to whether or not the call is “challenge-worthy.”
A common play that drew much attention early on was the transfer rule on a caught ball. Umpires have generally ruled that once a fielder has secured the baseball in his free (throwing) hand, it’s considered a catch. Much argument ensued early in the season as to whether or not that scenario did indeed constitute a catch. MLB officials were quick to clarify the rules by stating that what unpires had been calling all along (ball secured in the free hand) was correct.
As with all new regulations, time usually has a way of sorting out any “bugs” that need tweaking, and to MLB’s credit, they’ve moved quickly to address any controversies. Unfortunately, the new system (fairly or not) places increased pressure on the umpires, who now realize that nearly any call they make is now subject to the “eye in the sky,” and overturned calls put them alone in a less than favorable light. All in all however, as long as the game relies on human judgement (which it should), mistakes will be made, which is a big part of the beauty of the game.
But the big question is – Has this affected any of your bets??