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MLB replay slowing down game

For many years, baseball was played without any way to see or prove whether an umpire was correct in their decision. Since 2008, Major League Baseball has been using replay to determine the accuracy of the umpires. At first, they only were able to review boundary homerun calls.

This year, baseball implemented a replay system for the 2014 season. Under the current system, each manager is allowed one challenge per game. If the manager is successful with the initial challenge, he is allowed a second challenge. After the seventh inning, the crew chief is allowed to initiate a replay review if neither team has any challenges remaining. The crew chief is also allowed to initiate a review during any inning boundary home run call without a manager having to challenge.

At first everyone seemed in favor of the change. “Replay is going to show just how good the umpires are,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell in a previous statement to ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian.

All the replays are sent to MLB headquarters in New York City, which makes the final ruling on the play. There are three potential options: overturning a call, confirming it as correct or ruling it as it stands, meaning the video evidence wasn’t clear enough to merit changing the call. At that point, any further on-field arguments result in an automatic ejection from the game.

“They prepared us that there might be a hiccup or two and to kind of bear with it,” said Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona in a previous statement to USA Today’s Paul White. “And I think they’re constantly trying to see how they can make it better. I think it’s been pretty good.”

One problem that the replay system has is with overturning the calls on the field. To overturn a call on the field, you need undisputable video evidence.

Replay is also slowing down the game of baseball. Baseball already is a long game with nine or more innings. According to MLB.com, the average time for a nine inning game in the 1970s was around two hours and 30 minutes. Thirty years later, the numbers have grown to roughly two hours and 45 minutes to two hours and 50 minutes during the early part of the 21st century. Starting in 2007, the number grew to a little more than two hours and 50 minutes per game, and has not fallen below the 2:50 mark since 2007.

This year, games have lasted an average of just over three hours and eight minutes. A season ago, games overall lasted an average of just over three hours and four minutes.

According to MLB statistics, On June 14, there were a record 14 challenges throughout Major League baseball.

MLB also added 12 umpires to its staff. However, statistics show that umpiring quality has remained constant despite the additions. Four out of the top seven umpires with reversals are those who have umpired more than 1,600 games.

Replay has also managed to cause some controversy. On May 8, 2013 Adam Rosales of the Oakland Athletics hit a game tying home run, but was initially ruled a double, as the ball hit a railing behind the wall in left field and bounced back onto the field.

Despite video replays clearly indicating a home run, umpire Ángel Hernández upheld the original ruling of a double. Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin was ejected for arguing, and the Cleveland Indians held on to win the game 4-3.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon protested a game against the Blue Jays in the fourth inning after the umpires granted Toronto a replay challenge after the next play had begun.

Rays designated hitter Wil Myers reached on a one-out single in the fourth and was called safe by first base umpire Bill Welke on Mark Buehrle’s pickoff attempt. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons waited until Yunel Escobar stepped back into the batter’s box and Buehrle returned to the pitching rubber. The Blue Jays won the challenge.

The Rays immediately protested the game. Baseball’s new replay rules say any challenge must be made before the next play or pitch, which is said to begin “when the pitcher is on the rubber preparing to start his delivery and the batter has entered the batter’s box.”

“It was inappropriate for Bob to do what he did and permit that to happen,” Maddon said after game. “I’m trusting that they’re going to interpret the rule properly and get us back to that point in the game.”

Ultimately, Major League Baseball has denied the protest filed by the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

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