Why Replay Must Be Revised

MLB got its first full year taste of instant replay in the 2014 season. The game was going to go smoother, and more plays would get the correct call.

According to the 2014 rules, managers were granted one challenge per game, two if the call was overturned. The crew chief on the umpire squad could initiate a review of any play as long as it was the seventh inning or later. The umpires could also review any home run call during any point of the game.

Managers were allowed to come out of the dugout and challenge the following plays:

  • Ground-rule doubles
  • Fan interference
  • Boundary calls
  • Force plays excluding the “neighborhood play”
  • Tag plays on the base paths
  • Fair/Foul on balls in the outfield
  • Trap plays in the outfield
  • Time plays
  • Passing a runner
  • Score keeping mishaps

Managers could not challenge balls and strikes, obstruction, interference, the infield fly rule as well as check swings. All reviewable plays were subject to the “indisputable evidence rule.” This rule requires that should the play be overturned, there needs to be clear video evidence to overturn it or the call stands as is.

In its first season, MLB Instant Replay saw 1,276 plays go under review. Of these plays, 47.65% or 608 of them were overturned. That’s not a bad mark considering if replay hadn’t been there, there would have been 608 wrong calls throughout the season.

This season, there were revisions to these rules that did make it a more efficient process. In 2015, managers are still allowed to review all the plays that were previously listed, but they did not have to come out of the dugout to do so. A manager can stand at the top step and signal to the umpire that he would like the play reviewed.

They can now challenge runners leaving early, whether or not the runner tagged up, and whether or not the catcher violated the home plate collision rule. However, if the manager is out of replays, the crew chief may call for a replay of the play as well. The manager now also retains his challenge as long as the calls keep getting overturned in his favor. The managers also have two challenges available to them in the postseason, regular season tiebreaker games and All-Star games.

The 2015 season has seen 572 calls so far that have been asked to be reviewed. Of those calls, 47.38% or 271 have been overturned.

So what can be done to make this process better? In my opinion, managers should be able to challenge plays whenever they feel fit. Umpires do botch calls every now and then, and they can even botch them more than once in a game. If a manager loses his challenge in the first inning of the game, he then has to go through the rest of the game without a challenge. Umpires could still be making the wrong call throughout the game and the manager can’t do anything about it because he’s out of the challenges.

The point of replay is to get the calls right. If managers could challenge the reviewable plays throughout the game, without a specified number of challenges, more calls would get overturned and the game could go more smoothly.


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