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Sunday, April 06, 2014

First Reviews Confirm Replay as a Strategy, Not a Cure-All - NYTimes.com

Watching a manager come out and just stand around with an umpire is very irritating. Baseball already had a problem with pace. This just makes it worse.

On close plays, managers have gone out to talk to the umpires, essentially stalling as team video technicians studied the play. Coaches have then signaled to the manager about whether to formally challenge. Yet of the first 20 reviews, only eight were overturned.

40% of challenged plays have been overturned? I’d say La Russa’s comments are way off.

Managers, La Russa said, should save their challenges for the truly pivotal moments.

“I’ve been hearing more and more sabermetric guys advising managers — since umpires really don’t miss many calls, and impactful plays don’t happen that often — to use their challenge at the first opportunity,” he said.

“Well, that’s what Bruce did. He had the right to do it. But later that inning, he did not have a challenge. We’re advising managers to use your gut, and if your gut tells you this is a key play to challenge or not.”

Jim Furtado Posted: April 06, 2014 at 06:05 PM | 89 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: replay

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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 06, 2014 at 11:45 PM (#4680689)
I went to two games this weekend. The system needs to be changed not allowing managers to argue. If you want to challenge, challenge. Otherwise shut up and get back in the dugout.
   2. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:13 AM (#4680705)
This has been a highly unpleasant development in my baseball-watching life. Baseball games, god love them, are not matters of life and death. The amount of mound-trotting, pitcher-subbing, and commercial-time-outing already makes the game slower than it ought to be; now we have this. It was already the worst aspect of football; did we have to make it the worst aspect of baseball, also?
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:18 AM (#4680707)
If you want to challenge, challenge. Otherwise shut up and get back in the dugout.

A manager should be allowed to ask, or even urge, the umpires to confer, since it might save him a challenge, and could also affect which team has the burden of proof if a challenge is filed.
   4. Davo Dozier Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:29 AM (#4680710)
I'd say the response from the...BBTF-type crowd to instant replay has been an overwhelmingly resounding "Oh Dear God It Sucks Make It Go Away."

But how about the average fan--I feel like I'm out of touch with that crowd. In other words, does anyone like this?
   5. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:49 AM (#4680716)
For all those who are complaining about the speed of play issue with instant replay, all I can say is the average amount of time that instant replay takes is a lot less than the average amount of time a manager or player argues with an umpire before getting ejected.

I think it's a step in the right direction.
   6. Lars6788 Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:57 AM (#4680722)
It seems like everyone is on the ball - it's not like in other sports, where it seems like you are waiting five minutes for the officials to make a call and everyone is just standing around.

I think it helps, it's not actually the umpires who re-watch the questionable play.

I like the idea of getting the call right instead of leaving it up in the air for further speculation.
   7. Bhaakon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:12 AM (#4680723)
For all those who are complaining about the speed of play issue with instant replay, all I can say is the average amount of time that instant replay takes is a lot less than the average amount of time a manager or player argues with an umpire before getting ejected.


True, but for TV viewers at least, the broadcast would cut to commercial after a controversial inning-ending play, and we'd be spared any managerial angst or player complaints (unless something came up it, in which we'd get a replay during the next inning). Now they don't dare cut away in haste, for fear of a challenge. But, of course, they're still going to show the same number of commercials, so...blargh.

The point of replay to reduce umpiring errors as much as possible. The goal of the manager to win the game. I don't see how mixing the two was ever going to be anything less than a disaster. Just look at how they abuse mound visits and throws to first when they're stalling for a reliever to warm up. Of course the managers were going to milk it for every possible tactical advantage, watchability be damned.
   8. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:13 AM (#4680725)
For all those who are complaining about the speed of play issue with instant replay, all I can say is the average amount of time that instant replay takes is a lot less than the average amount of time a manager or player argues with an umpire before getting ejected.

But these replays are happening far more often than manager arguments and ejections.
   9. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 03:35 AM (#4680733)
But these replays are happening far more often than manager arguments and ejections.


I agree with that, however there is another byproduct. Has a player or manager been ejected yet this season?
   10. bjhanke Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:52 AM (#4680736)
Those of us who remember The Denkinger Call are delighted to see instant replay. And, in reality, that is the sort of play that replay is aimed at correcting. - Brock Hanke
   11. bobm Posted: April 07, 2014 at 06:54 AM (#4680742)
FTFA:

“There really isn’t a clear understanding among fans about the realistic and reasonable expectations for instant replay in the first iteration,” Tony La Russa, the Hall of Fame manager who helped create the system, said by telephone last week.

“We’re not trying to get every play right,” La Russa said. “Human error is part of the game: infielders making errors, pitchers hanging pitches. Managers make errors, too. What we’re trying to eliminate are the game-changing moments that affect the competition, embarrass the umpires and benefit one team that didn’t deserve the call.”
   12. Drexl Spivey Posted: April 07, 2014 at 07:32 AM (#4680747)
I like the idea of getting the call right instead of leaving it up in the air for further speculation.


I disagree. On a bang bang play at first, I love reacting to the safe/out call. Replay kills that excitement.



   13. Jim Furtado Posted: April 07, 2014 at 08:28 AM (#4680766)
For all those who are complaining about the speed of play issue with instant replay, all I can say is the average amount of time that instant replay takes is a lot less than the average amount of time a manager or player argues with an umpire before getting ejected.

I think it's a step in the right direction.
As the LaRussa quote mentions, the intention of the replay system isn't to get absolutely every call right. It's to right the egregious errors. Right now manager are heading onto to the field on every remotely close call. Sorry, but that's just tedious. I'd prefer that they get rid of the whole challenge part of the system. Allow the umpires to check a call when they feel the situation warrants but get rid of the rest.
   14. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 08:32 AM (#4680767)
I disagree. On a bang bang play at first, I love reacting to the safe/out call. Replay kills that excitement.
There's a fair point there. "He is... out! Maybe!"

The problem I have with replay is that there's no penalty for challenging when the call is upheld. In football you lose a timeout.
   15. Downtown Bookie Posted: April 07, 2014 at 08:55 AM (#4680773)
From the excerpt above:

Yet of the first 20 reviews, only eight were overturned.


Only eight out of twenty? Seriously? Only eight? Is the bar that low for MLB umpires that we now just accept the fact that being proven correct sixty percent of the time is some high achievement?

Anyway, I'm sure given time a better methology will present itself for correcting the umpires' mistakes. But if you're looking for a real long-term solution, the answer lies in training umpires to do a better job getting the call right in the first place.

DB
   16. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:05 AM (#4680778)
A manager should be allowed to ask, or even urge, the umpires to confer, since it might save him a challenge


This is one of the many problems with this challenge system. Either it is or it isn't a challenge system. Personally I think the challenge system is stupid but if we're going to have a challenge system then have a challenge system. I'd be willing to bet that as the season goes on the number of umpire initiated challenges is massively skewed toward home teams.

Only eight out of twenty? Seriously? Only eight? Is the bar that low for MLB umpires that we now just accept the fact that being proven correct sixty percent of the time is some high achievement?


I think the point is that in 20 situations when managers were SURE they were right, not just putting up a fight they were wrong 12 of the 20 times.
   17. BDC Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4680795)
the average fan--I feel like I'm out of touch with that crowd. In other words, does anyone like this?

Ron Washington challenged a call at second base last Tuesday in Arlington, won the challenge, and the crowd was delighted. It's hard to tell what that means, though. They actually did show a replay on the main board while the call was under review, and the crowd was sure Wash would win, and fairness seemed to prevail. But what if the home team was clearly wrong in bringing the challenge? I'd like to think that a sense of fairness would prevail, but there are people who are sure the officials are always against their team in any sport, and it seems every challenge will be popular with them based on whether it goes for or against their side: which brings us right back to the griping that prevailed before replay.
   18. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4680807)
The problem I have with replay is that there's no penalty for challenging when the call is upheld. In football you lose a timeout.

On a failed challenge, the umpire should get to hit the manager in the head with his hat, like the Skipper would do to Gilligan every time he screwed up their chance to get off the island.
   19. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4680819)
On a failed challenge, the umpire should get to hit the manager in the head with his hat, like the Skipper would do to Gilligan every time he screwed up their chance to get off the island.

On a failed challenge, the manager should be forced to eat from a buffet table already raided by John Sterling.
   20. Baldrick Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4680820)
As the LaRussa quote mentions, the intention of the replay system isn't to get absolutely every call right. It's to right the egregious errors. Right now manager are heading onto to the field on every remotely close call. Sorry, but that's just tedious. I'd prefer that they get rid of the whole challenge part of the system. Allow the umpires to check a call when they feel the situation warrants but get rid of the rest.

YES.
   21. Brian Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4680840)
My issue is what is taking so long? We were told that the guys in NYC are watching all the games and will get a jump on reviewing the play before it's challenged. Why are the umpps on the headset for a minute plus then? TB game, Myers makes a sliding/diving catch, umps say no. Before Maddon was all the way to the umps TV showed 3 angles that showed he definiitely caught it. Two umps jog to headsets and are on them for almost 2 minutes. How long does it take to say "you ###### up, reverse it"? NYC guys need to be more decisive.
   22. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4680842)
I think the point is that in 20 situations when managers were SURE they were right, not just putting up a fight they were wrong 12 of the 20 times.

And that is a great success rate for a guy sitting over a 100 feet away from the play as it happens and it especially makes the umpires look inept.

   23. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4680844)
What are you people doing in those two minutes otherwise? Early season regular season baseball is not riveting. Period. Never was and never will be. That isn't baseball or that hasn't been baseball in almost a century. If you want excitement go play ping-pong.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4680850)
Those of us who remember The Denkinger Call are delighted to see instant replay. And, in reality, that is the sort of play that replay is aimed at correcting. - Brock Hanke

Nope. The Denkinger Call was much better for baseball than a correct call. We'll still talking about it, right?

As Voxter says, this ain't brain surgery. "Getting it right" doesn't really matter.

Baseball lore is filled with the wrong call.
   25. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4680867)
I think the point is that in 20 situations when managers were SURE they were right, not just putting up a fight they were wrong 12 of the 20 times.

And that is a great success rate for a guy sitting over a 100 feet away from the play as it happens and it especially makes the umpires look inept.


What you meant to say is that is a terrible success rate for a guy who doesn't throw the challenge flag until he gets a signal from the guy in the clubhouse looking over close up TV replays from 5 different angles.
   26. Rusty Priske Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4680869)
Arguing agaisnt getting the call right is nonsensical.

That doesn't mean that this system is the right way to go.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4680877)
Arguing agaisnt getting the call right is nonsensical.

The argument is not, "don't get the call right", it's don't disrupt the flow of the game and waste 5 minutes, in an already slow paced sport, just to get a few marginal calls right.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4680879)
Right now manager are heading onto to the field on every remotely close call. Sorry, but that's just tedious. I'd prefer that they get rid of the whole challenge part of the system. Allow the umpires to check a call when they feel the situation warrants but get rid of the rest.


EVERYONE wants it to work this way, from what I can tell. I think the challenge system is abhorrent.
   29. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4680882)
The argument is not, "don't get the call right", it's don't disrupt the flow of the game and waste 5 minutes, in an already slow paced sport, just to get a few marginal calls right.

Yeah, it's not like a World Series is on the line or something. Oh. . .

Baseball has a flow? Since when?

What you meant to say is that is a terrible success rate for a guy who doesn't throw the challenge flag until he gets a signal from the guy in the clubhouse looking over close up TV replays from 5 different angles.


No, didn't mean that at all. Getting 8 of 20 calls overturned is a great first step. It highlights how horribly inadequate current umpires are at their job.
   30. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:22 AM (#4680885)
It highlights how horribly inadequate current umpires are at their job.


Actually, it highlights how bad the clubhouse review guy is. With the benefit of closeup, slow motion, and multiple angels, they are still beat by the umpires working in real time 6 times out of 10.
   31. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4680891)
I haven't watched a lot of baseball this year so far: parts of 3 games equalling about one full game. In that "game", I saw the manager come out 3 times to waste time while the clubhouse review guy was doing his thing. All three times the manager got the "don't challenge" signal. When talking about how poorly the umpires do vs the guy sitting 100 feet away, those "failed" challenges have to be factored in. It's not 8 out of 20. It's more like 8 out of 200.
   32. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4680894)
Well, you are assuming that all 12 calls that didn't get overturned were actually the correct call which actually isn't true and you are also assuming that they only challenge calls in which they think they are absolutely right on.

The umpires have made at least 8 obvious errors so far this season and it has barely started. Before replay are only remedy for these obvious errors was to wave our hands in the air and say oh well.
   33. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4680902)
When talking about how poorly the umpires do vs the guy sitting 100 feet away, those "failed" challenges have to be factored in.

Factored in to what? They are checking to see if the umpire did the job he was supposed to do and so far they have found that umpires have made 8 obvious errors that they could challenge with probably a hand full more being obvious errors but they weren't able to overturn them.

Unless there was 1000 close plays over the weekend 8 of almost anything is going to be a horrible percentage of blown calls.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4680919)
Arguing agaisnt getting the call right is nonsensical.

That doesn't mean that this system is the right way to go.


Correct. The challenge system needs to go away. They need to up the number of people in the New York studio, and have the studio issue the replay ruling untethered to any action at the park.

I'm also in the boat that thinks 8 out of 20 is way high enough to justify the system for now. Just need to improve it's response time.
   35. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4680921)
Well, you are assuming that all 12 calls that didn't get overturned were actually the correct call which actually isn't true and you are also assuming that they only challenge calls in which they think they are absolutely right on.


2 pretty solid assumptions. And why do you assert the former? If a play is too close to call (or overturn) even with slo mo replay, then by any reasonable definition, it cannot be a wrong or blown call one way or another. Sometimes there is just a tie, but since the game requires a call one way or another, someone has to make the call.
   36. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:00 PM (#4680931)
Right now manager are heading onto to the field on every remotely close call. Sorry, but that's just tedious. I'd prefer that they get rid of the whole challenge part of the system. Allow the umpires to check a call when they feel the situation warrants but get rid of the rest.


EVERYONE wants it to work this way, from what I can tell. I think the challenge system is abhorrent.


I think a couple weeks into how it's actually playing out, everyone agrees (and pretty much thought so going in) that the challenge system is broken from the start. But the embedded quote, where the umpires "check a call when they feel the situation warrants" won't work, because umpires never think their calls deserve review.

The best thing, I suspect, would be to remove "challenges" and just let the managers go back to "am I willing to get thrown out arguing this" as their decision point. If they are, if they're willing to go out and throw a fit, then that gives the replay booth a window to review the call and overturn it on their own authority if needs be.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4680941)
Yeah, it's not like a World Series is on the line or something. Oh. . .

And I reply, so what? The winner of the World Series is actually of no import to baseball as a business or organization, and completely irrelevant to the world at large.

One team is going to win (and a bunch of fans will be happy) and one is going to lose (and a bunch of fans will be sad/mad). A blown call does nothing to change this calculus.

Is there any evidence that the Denkinger call hurt basbeall in any way? Or, by the mere fact we are still talking about it, does it serve as a sort of marketing for baseball?

People don't seem to get this about things like blown calls, disputed MVP votes, violent disagreements about the HoF, etc. Controversy is good for baseball. It provides free marketing. It gives us something to argue about.

A sport where they get all the decisions "right" is worse off as a business, and less interesting to the fans.
   38. PreservedFish Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4680949)
But the embedded quote, where the umpires "check a call when they feel the situation warrants" won't work, because umpires never think their calls deserve review.


You would need to have a 5th umpire, somewhere, deciding which calls are worth reviewing. More jobs for umpires = happy union = problem solved.
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4680956)
You would need to have a 5th umpire, somewhere, deciding which calls are worth reviewing. More jobs for umpires = happy union = problem solved.

This seems so obvious, right? How have they missed the 5th ump, who can buzz the crew chief when he sees something that needs review, as the solution?

It gives the umps more jobs, and one night out of 5 in a sit-down, air-conditioned job.
   40. cardsfanboy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4680998)
I think a couple weeks into how it's actually playing out, everyone agrees (and pretty much thought so going in) that the challenge system is broken from the start. But the embedded quote, where the umpires "check a call when they feel the situation warrants" won't work, because umpires never think their calls deserve review.


That is incorrect. At least in spring training so far, the umps were extremely willing to do the at their own discretion review.

This seems so obvious, right? How have they missed the 5th ump, who can buzz the crew chief when he sees something that needs review, as the solution?

It gives the umps more jobs, and one night out of 5 in a sit-down, air-conditioned job.


And that is what a vast percentage of people have been arguing for. As you mentioned, it seems so obvious, it's sad that they didn't just go there from the start.
   41. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4681038)
So 91 games, 20 challenges, 8 overturned calls (and one missed call after the Giants lost their challenge). I'd say that a missed call only once every ten games is a pretty good rate. It's also encouraging how rarely the challenges even need to get used.
   42. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4681057)

A sport where they get all the decisions "right" is worse off as a business, and less interesting to the fans.


what is your basis for this? Are you just making this stuff up because it suits you?

TEnnis is a sport where they have gone to a replay system, I doubt it is perfect, but it may be the closest thing you can find to a sport with a fairly successful review system. I do not think tennis is suffering for that. You dont have fans complaining, "gee what happened to the times when MacEnroe would lose his mind after a completely missed call?"
   43. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4681061)

The problem I have with replay is that there's no penalty for challenging when the call is upheld


they lose the right to make a second challenge. Are you aware of this?

Challenge systems are always going to have flaws; it makes it another skill in a manager and/or club's repetoire and I'd rather focus on hitting and pitching and not whether Clint Hurdle can spot blown calls.

But there are good things going on here as well. For one thing, the centralized review process is much better that letting the same guys who just blew the call review themselves. This is far better. Also no one has mentioned that it seems to make manager/umpire fights less likely. For one thing, they still have innings 7-9 where they might have to beg for a discretionary call so it makes no sense to piss them off.

I guess I havent really followed much regular season baseball so maybe these fights were going down in any event (as LaRussa seems to be saying in the article).
   44. thetailor Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4681065)
These problems with replay were incredibly obvious. I mean... I don't know why everyone is surprised.

Finally, manager’s challenges add an element of strategy to the game that has never existed before and that adds nothing to the game. Even the NFL, the forerunner of the challenge-style replay system, has moved away from challenges. The NFL is a drastically different sport than the MLB. The NFL is a newer sport, one which is constantly changing, and is more spectacle than sport ... However even in that sport, the challenge is going to the wayside in favor of automatic review of scoring plays and turnovers.

In MLB there is simply no reason to put the reviews in the hands of the on-field managers when the technology exists to have close plays reviewed automatically.
   45. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4681069)
12 has it exactly right. The excitement of the moment is worth much much more than splitting atoms to see how many milliseconds a call was off. It absolutely the worst thing about football, "hooray we scored a touchdown! Probably. "
   46. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4681076)

That is incorrect. At least in spring training so far, the umps were extremely willing to do the at their own discretion review.


Right and this is probably the most promising development of all the changes that replay is making. To see these guys actually going to replay is such a contrast to what we used to see.

Does anyone like that development? Or is it just "challenges suck, it takes too long."
   47. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4681079)
[44] The NFL adding more automatic challenges has been a bad thing imo. In the old days, occasionally a coach would challenge a call that was obviously correct but challenges were mostly limited to those in which the coach had good reason to believe would be overturned ones in very high leverage situations. Now, pretty much every "close" scoring play and turnover gets looked at, the majority of which were called correctly and obvious to everyone that they were called correctly. The amount of unnecessary review has skyrocketed since they started making scoring plays auto-reviewed.
   48. Danny Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4681081)
Actually, it highlights how bad the clubhouse review guy is. With the benefit of closeup, slow motion, and multiple angels, they are still beat by the umpires working in real time 6 times out of 10.

This is silly. If you think there's a 40% chance of an important call being overturned, of course you ask them to review it.
   49. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4681108)
Right, I dont get that "only" 40% thing. If replay over turns ever reach 50% then it's almost proof positive that lots of other calls are being blown. I dont know what the appeal success is in the legal system, but it is probably less than 50%.

Anything close to 50% of overturning, is pretty much screaming that lots of decisions are messed up.

"only 40%...." tsk.
   50. madvillain Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4681133)
The problem with replay, no matter how much you try and take it out, is that it still involves a human element. We see it time and time again in college basketball where the officials cabal seemingly goes against what 75% of the TV audience would have done, and we see it in the NFL as well at times. The NFL of course knows this which is why each offseason they try and instruct the officials exactly what the preponderance of evedince should be to overturn a call and how exactly they try and define things like "a catch".

And despite all this, there is no doubt that most fans and probably some NFL refs, are still confused as to what exactly constitutes a catch or indisubutable visual evidence.

You will always, always, always have the human element.

Frankly, I thought that replay in baseball would be a disaster the way it was setup and so far it's been a disaster IMO. The over turn rate reflects what each of us already assumed: there are a shitload of "bang bang" plays (much like "who did the ball go off of" in basketball replays) that are near impossible to judge in real time and still very hard to judge in replay. In the White Sox and Royals game ysterday the Sox challenged a play and the Sox brodcast clearly had a freeze frame showing the ball was in Abreu's glove before the foot hit (foot was maybe half a foot above the bag). It was pretty clear to Hawk and Steve Stone that the call was going to be overturned.

It wasn't. And that's the rub.

I get that we want to fix the awful calls, the calls like Jim Joyce screwing up a perfect game or a runner missing a base en route to scoring the winning run -- but the system as currently devised is not setup to those ends.

What I would do is have 1 challenge a game, that's it. If you win it you get another. If not too bad so sad. This will make managers only challenge the truely obviokus, awful, momentous calls. It will eliminate the truly awful calls while mostly preserving the flow of the game on the "bang bang" calls.
   51. Srul Itza Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4681136)
Only eight out of twenty? Seriously? Only eight? Is the bar that low for MLB umpires that we now just accept the fact that being proven correct sixty percent of the time is some high achievement?


Has anyone here ever umpired? If so, at what level?

Does anyone have any idea how hard this is? Ball, glove and runner moving at high speed from different angles, who got there first? Does anyone here have any background in understanding the limits of perception?

This stuff is hard. Blowing the easy calls, like in the perfect game or Denkinger, that is hard to understand. But a lot of these challenges are on plays that are not so easy.

I think over time, advances in technology are going to resolve some of these issues. Until then, we will muddle through like we always have.
   52. BDC Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4681173)
a lot of these challenges are on plays that are not so easy

That's an important point. Granting madvillian's observation that even replay needs human interpretation and decision, one has to remember that 21st-century broadcasts allow us seamlessly to see stuff slowly from multiple angles, that an umpire got to see once, possibly screened, in real time. I still contend that fans who think ML umpiring is "bad" are probably the same ones who think that postseason fielding is "bad," or that sort of thing: the question is, bad compared to what? High-school ball? Div-I? Abstract perfection? Most fault-finders are using the third standard.
   53. thetailor Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4681180)
#50:
What I would do is have 1 challenge a game, that's it. If you win it you get another. If not too bad so sad. This will make managers only challenge the truely obviokus, awful, momentous calls. It will eliminate the truly awful calls while mostly preserving the flow of the game on the "bang bang" calls.

But that also makes challenge strategy part of the game, which I think is awful and unnatural. I don't ever want a game, or a playoff game, determined by whether or not a manager used his challenge. It'll happen someday, and it'll be 10x worse than a blown call.
   54. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4681184)
Has anyone here ever umpired? If so, at what level?


I do. High School.

I can't speak to the pros, but I take exception that no umpire ever thinks his call may be wrong. Almost every game I make a call that I have some doubt about. That's the nature of extremely close plays. But I have to make a call and I do, to the best of my ability. And I'm happy to be set straight by my partner if he had a better look. I cringe when my call on an extremely close play leads to or stops short a potential big inning.
   55. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4681186)
The standard is that they get paid a ton of money to get it right and they are supposed to be the best. For too long they were a brash arrogant bunch that had egos so large that they refused to even try to fix their mistakes. Their job is difficult but is important for the industry thus they get paid a lot of money to entice the talent to dedicate themselves to the their job. The fact that some high school ump is much worse doesn't let them off the hook.
   56. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:58 PM (#4681187)
Baseball's a perfect example of how annoying and counterproductive too much knowledge can be. Now that everyone knows the value of all the plays, the game is less spontaneous, we have fewer stolen base attempts, we have less speed on the basepaths, and we have a bunch of guys scratching their sacks when fastballs go down the middle on 1-0, only to flail oafishly at a 58-foot slider on 2-2.

Same thing with HDTV and the improvement in cameras. I'm not sure I even wanted to know how many calls the umpires are blowing and what the "right" call was on every single play. What exactly am I getting from that knowledge?

And even worse than all that is the way that knowledge leads inevitably to its bastard cousin -- knowingness, of the MGL/Tango/Law variety.

The game was better when the value of a caught stealing hadn't been reduced to the fourth decimal point and guys just ran really hard and tried to steal a lot of bases. Like many facets of life, the sport is now fussily administered, instead of just played.

   57. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 07, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4681189)
The excitement of the moment is worth much much more than splitting atoms to see how many milliseconds a call was off. It absolutely the worst thing about football, "hooray we scored a touchdown! Probably. "


I see this brought up a lot, but it really isn't true.
How many touchdowns are really going to be reviewed and actually have a chance of being overturned?
10%? Most touchdowns are easy touchdowns without any real need for a review.
The runner breaks through the line and scores. No review necessary, obvious celebration.
The receiver catches the ball untouched in the endzone, a good 3 feet from the sidelines. No review necessary, obvious celebration.
The runner/receiver has the ball and crosses the goal line untouched. No review necessary, obvious celebration.
   58. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4681193)
Getting the call right has never sucked the excitement out of a game. There have even been moments where waiting for the call has heightened the drama of the game. What does hurt in football is when the refs make a very obvious mistake and then take numerous minutes to review the mistake, fix it, and get the game moving again. The problem in the NFL isn't instant replay but that the refs are constantly making a lot of bad calls and then reviewing themselves. The NFL should have a command center like MLB and should just buzz the refs that they are wrong when they are wrong.

Baseball is a slow game, adding instant replay isn't going to make it better or worse on that front. The people listening on the radio will continue to be entertainted by the announcers, the people watching on TV will get a million replays and lots of discussion about the call, and the people at the park will be assaulted with loud music and movie clips. It's a win all the way around.
   59. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 07, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4681194)
I see this brought up a lot, but it really isn't true.
How many touchdowns are really going to be reviewed and actually have a chance of being overturned?


And on the rare occasion where the play is really "we scored a touchdown, maybe?!" the effect for fans is different than what's suggested above. Fans are on edge for minutes hoping and praying, intently engaged with the replay after replay after replay. Casual watchers are bored of it, but we're not the target audience.
   60. Srul Itza Posted: April 07, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4681206)
The standard is that they get paid a ton of money to get it right and they are supposed to be the best. For too long they were a brash arrogant bunch that had egos so large that they refused to even try to fix their mistakes. Their job is difficult but is important for the industry thus they get paid a lot of money to entice the talent to dedicate themselves to the their job. The fact that some high school ump is much worse doesn't let them off the hook.


Platitude, generality, blah, blah, blah.
   61. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 07, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4681230)
I can't speak to the pros, but I take exception that no umpire ever thinks his call may be wrong. Almost every game I make a call that I have some doubt about. That's the nature of extremely close plays. But I have to make a call and I do, to the best of my ability. And I'm happy to be set straight by my partner if he had a better look. I cringe when my call on an extremely close play leads to or stops short a potential big inning.


Years ago, I had a call in a tournament game that I knew that I kicked about .1 seconds after I made the call. The coach who I made the call against came out right away and I talked to my partner and I pretty much told him "I f-ed that one up, we'll discuss it for a while, but he was safe".. and I changed my call, etc, etc

I really do think some of you umpire haters should go down to your local youth league and volunteer. Calling games is awfully hard.

And calling bang bang plays sucks.. no matter what anyone says
   62. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4681235)
Years ago, I had a call in a tournament game that I knew that I kicked about .1 seconds after I made the call. The coach who I made the call against came out right away and I talked to my partner and I pretty much told him "I f-ed that one up, we'll discuss it for a while, but he was safe".. and I changed my call, etc, etc


Heh. had something similar happen the other day. I was behind the plate, and the batter swung and fouled off a pitch. I threw up my hands and called "Foul", and then immediately thought "Boy, that swing sounded funny." Before I could process that, a fan yells "The bat hit the glove, that was interference.", and I thought "yep, it sure was." I could not make it look like I changed the call because of a fan, so I called on my partner. I basically said "This is for show. It was interference, but I have to make it seem like you helped me with the call, not the guy in the stands."
   63. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 07, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4681248)
I umpired many years ago and I'll add to the group talking about how hard it is. One of the things that strikes me is the frequency with which "bad" calls are made on awkward plays. As an umpire you are taught to look at certain things and when a play unfolds in a strange fashion it is very easy to miss something that may seem obvious.

I think umpiring in MLB, warts and all, is superior to the other major sports. The NBA is a joke in my opinion, the NFL is poor and soccer suffers from real inconsistency. I think the NHL is pretty good since (about a decade ago) they started getting serious about calling games for a full 60 rather than "letting the boys play" in the third period. Baseball umps are not perfect but I think they do a very good job.
   64. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:11 PM (#4681267)
One of the things that strikes me is the frequency with which "bad" calls are made on awkward plays.


Absolutely.

had a call the other day. I was standing on the grass between the SS and 3B because there was a runner on 3rd. 2 outs, tie game, the batter hits a GB to the SS. He bobbles the ball, then makes a hurried throw to the 1B. the ball beats the runner, but the throw pulls the 1B off the bag. It was extremely close as to weather the 1B caught the ball before or after he caught the ball. It looked to like after, so I signal safe. the go ahead run scores, and I get all sorts of grief from the manager because I am killing them. Their SS screwed up twice, and I am the one who is killing them. After that call, they allow 3-4 more runs and that's pretty much the ballgame, but of course it's all my fault, not the SS who messed up twice.

Sure, I might have gotten it wrong. It was an extremely close play that shouldn't have been. And since they only pay for 2 umpires, I was 100 feet away.
   65. Zach Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4681282)
The strategy of "challenge at the first opportunity because the umps probably aren't going to make a mistake that requires an actual challenge" is both sound an (implicitly) an argument that replay isn't needed after all.

The strategy of "delay the game until your clubhouse guy can signal whether you should challenge or not" is strategically sound but intolerable from a pace of game standpoint.

If you want to have a challenge system, then any argument that impedes the pace of the game should count as a challenge. A runner gets in the umps face? That's a challenge. The manager ambles in to talk it over? Challenge.
   66. cardsfanboy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4681287)
I really do think some of you umpire haters should go down to your local youth league and volunteer. Calling games is awfully hard.


Some of the umpire haters isn't about the ones who do it right, but the clear jackasses in the group who think that the fans came out to see them. Nobody has a problem with Jim Joyce, even when he makes a bad call. We know he takes it seriously. But there is no reason that Angel Fernandez, Bucknor, West or Davidson should have a job. You could go grab a high school ump and get someone who will be 1. less self important 2. better ump.

   67. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4681291)
I umpired many years ago and I'll add to the group talking about how hard it is. One of the things that strikes me is the frequency with which "bad" calls are made on awkward plays. As an umpire you are taught to look at certain things and when a play unfolds in a strange fashion it is very easy to miss something that may seem obvious.


And this is why anyone who has ever umpired will tell you that the more advanced you become, the easier it gets. When you call a Pony league game (13-14) and a ball is hit to the shortstop, it is damn near guaranteed that he will catch it and make an easy out at first. Back track to Mustang (9-10) and a ball hit to short has a good chance of not being caught, and if it is it will be thrown away, but if it is a good throw the first baseman will miss it, and about 5% of the time everything will work out right.

The MLB guys have it pretty easy. 99.9% of the expected plays will happen as expected. But man, bang-bang plays are super hard and I still encourage you folks to give it a try. There are bunches of times in youth leagues that I wish I had a replay to look at.
   68. cardsfanboy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:22 PM (#4681292)
I think umpiring in MLB, warts and all, is superior to the other major sports. The NBA is a joke in my opinion, the NFL is poor and soccer suffers from real inconsistency. I think the NHL is pretty good since (about a decade ago) they started getting serious about calling games for a full 60 rather than "letting the boys play" in the third period. Baseball umps are not perfect but I think they do a very good job.


NHL still sucks in the post season though. Agree about the NBA, there is no group of less competent "umpires" in any of the sports...not just major, but even the third tiered sports like Soccer, WNBA, Women's football, heck even wrestling might have better and less partial officiating.
   69. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4681299)
When you call a Pony league game (13-14) and a ball is hit to the shortstop, it is damn near guaranteed that he will catch it and make an easy out at first.


When was the last time you watched a pony league game? Ground balls hit to the SS in JV are turned into outs only about 80% of the time. Pony ( I coach Pony), about 60%.
   70. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4681303)
When was the last time you watched a pony league game? Ground balls hit to the SS in JV are turned into outs only about 80% of the time. Pony ( I coach Pony), about 60%.


I've probably umpired more Pony games than the vast majority of volunteer coaches have been involved in.
   71. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4681324)
This seems so obvious, right? How have they missed the 5th ump, who can buzz the crew chief when he sees something that needs review, as the solution?

It gives the umps more jobs, and one night out of 5 in a sit-down, air-conditioned job.

I dislike the current implementation immensely and am all for adding a fifth guy on-site, but it seems like it should be a dedicated replay guy rather than a rotation. Umpires are bad enough at calling balls and strikes when they do it every fourth day; changing to every fifth day will probably make things even worse. (Plus, there are always injured umpires for whom the replay position would be a good fit, as well as older umpires who can't handle the physical demands but could be an asset on replay.)
   72. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 07, 2014 at 04:45 PM (#4681325)
I just want to add.. for a site that is "For the thinking fan", we are woefully short on umpire metrics and folks assume that umpires are making bad calls anyhow.
   73. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 07, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4681357)
Those of us who remember The Denkinger Call are delighted to see instant replay.

That's only by making the dubious assumption that most of "us" watching that game weren't rooting for the Cardinals to implode by whatever means necessary. To most people not in "Cardinals Nation", Denkinger was merely acting as God's righteous agent to smite the most obnoxious team in history.

------------------------------------

Arguing agaisnt getting the call right is nonsensical.

Which is why we now have a system that laboriously tries to correct about 5% of all bad calls, while arguing that the other 95% of blown calls present nothing but an additional skill set to be mastered in order to make bad umpiring work in your favor.
   74. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 09:59 PM (#4681564)
The idea that people are being brought into the game because of the human officiating is ridiculous and seems to me the silliest sort of rationalization. As Andy alluded to the only reason the Denkinger call is fondly remembered is cause a) everyone outside of STL hates the Cardinals, b) everyone including CFB hates Whitey Herzog and the call sent the series to game 7.

There was nothing compelling or Human Elementy about that blown call.

And think about all the other blown calls,did those really bring people to the game? Do you think people flocked to baseball to see another stupid Eric Gregg call? I know for a fact I forgot the entire playoffs that year of the Jeffrey Maeir call. Maybe I was too invested in the Orioles but the rest of it was just a blur. Or what about the CB Bucknor calls? YOu think that sh!t brought people to the game? What about when two guys ended up on third and no one was out? is there anything about the Tim Donaghi story that makes you want to tune into the NBA? Not me; that game seems extremely suspect.

Do you really think there are people out there who think: "You know honey, I was thinking of not watching baseball this year, but I think about how Joe Mauer lost that double that was clearly fair and I feel like I really need to see the human element in officiating?"

Anyone who tunes into baseball for the officiating is insane.
   75. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:02 PM (#4681568)
Which is why we now have a system that laboriously tries to correct about 5% of all bad calls, while arguing that the other 95% of blown calls present nothing but an additional skill set to be mastered


This is ridiculous hyperbole Andy. Judging from the way this has been implemented it seems that umpires are going to be very liberal in awarding replays during the 7th inn. on. I would wager that you will no longer see any truly egregious call in the late innings of future playoff games.

This is nowhere near missing 95% of blown calls. Really try to get back to reality, its a system that is just being implemented and is not a finished product.
   76. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:07 PM (#4681571)
Andy wants an automated strike zone. The 95% he's referring to are balls and strikes.
   77. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4681576)
This is ridiculous hyperbole Andy. Judging from the way this has been implemented it seems that umpires are going to be very liberal in awarding replays during the 7th inn. on. I would wager that you will no longer see any truly egregious call in the late innings of future playoff games.

This is nowhere near missing 95% of blown calls. Really try to get back to reality, its a system that is just being implemented and is not a finished product.

I believe Andy's "95 percent" was in regards to balls and strikes. If so, he's 100 percent right.

EDIT: Bottled water to Misirlou. Should have refreshed the page.
   78. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:20 PM (#4681578)
oh sorry, good catch on that one. I think if we just took the top half of ball/strike umpires it might be fine.
   79. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4681585)
These little anecdotes really highlight just how umps are just a bunch of arseholes. Here we have anecdotes about umpires who almost immediately that they were wrong and instead of simply and quickly admitting their error and changing the call have to create a whole song and dance and stop play to hide the fact that they made a simple mistake. Then on top of that we even get an anecdote where the ump was in such a huge rush to make a call any kind of call at all, that he knew the call he was making was wrong while he made it.

You read the ump autobiographies and you discover that this kind of crap isn't limited to LL or high school umps but also major league umpires as well. Numerous umps have stated virtually the same thing for decades which is never let them think you made a mistake and that kind of thinking is BS.
   80. frannyzoo Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4681586)
MLB.com is putting "Team X Challenge" in bright orange atop their mini-box scores on the front page. Selling what is a bug as a feature just makes it worse. Who watches sports for the challenges? I guess some folks do.
   81. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:54 PM (#4681589)
These little anecdotes really highlight just how umps are just a bunch of arseholes.


Or, alternatively, maybe you are.

I got the call right. I had every intention of getting the call right. What I could not allow is the perception that the fans influenced my call change. Only a meathead like you could fail to understand that.
   82. Sunday silence Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:57 PM (#4681592)
I got the call right. I had every intention of getting the call right. What I could not allow is the perception that the fans influenced my call change.


it was a great story and very realistic approach to that issue.
   83. Lassus Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:28 PM (#4681602)
Or, alternatively, maybe you are.

Seriously, the bar McCoy sets for joyless posting is jarringly high.
   84. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:32 PM (#4681606)
it was a great story and very realistic approach to that issue.


After I consulted with my partner and sent the batter to first base, I got a small round of applause from the batting team fans for getting the call right, and that was the end of it. Any other action would have led to more disruption. What many people forget is that the primary job of the umpire is to control the game. That includes, players, coaches, and to the extent it is possible, fans.
   85. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:37 AM (#4681625)
#13 pretty much sums up what fans really want. Problem is, executing that vision isn't that easy with the written rule, it would require the application of common sense, something that is in short supply.

Basically fans want the 6 or 7 egregious errors per year corrected that my dead pet bird could see. I blame the NFL for replay. At least it sucks worse there than in MLB.
   86. Squash Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:59 AM (#4681640)
My issue is what is taking so long? We were told that the guys in NYC are watching all the games and will get a jump on reviewing the play before it's challenged. Why are the umpps on the headset for a minute plus then? TB game, Myers makes a sliding/diving catch, umps say no. Before Maddon was all the way to the umps TV showed 3 angles that showed he definiitely caught it. Two umps jog to headsets and are on them for almost 2 minutes. How long does it take to say "you ###### up, reverse it"? NYC guys need to be more decisive.

I'm with you on this. On about 95% of plays the TV trucks can tell you in 10 seconds what the correct call is. The other 5%, where you really can't tell, should be kept as they were called on the field for lack of evidence to overturn them.

The issue, which we've discussed before, is that it doesn't directly follow that MLB wants calls to be resolved in ten seconds. To do so would imply the umpires are superfluous window dressing and that the game is really being run from somewhere else. It's not necessarily a bad thing that it takes forever for a replay judgment to come through - it shows A Decision Is Being Made.
   87. Sunday silence Posted: April 08, 2014 at 03:14 AM (#4681642)
if you're going to go through the trouble of doing replay say 1 or 2 times a game, you sure as hell might as well spend more than ten seconds and make sure, or at least try to make sure, its the right call.

The idea of making a call in ten seconds is silly. It's really easy to mess things up in that short a window.
   88. A Dying Soul Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:45 AM (#4681645)
I'm with you on this. On about 95% of plays the TV trucks can tell you in 10 seconds what the correct call is. The other 5%, where you really can't tell, should be kept as they were called on the field for lack of evidence to overturn them.

The issue, which we've discussed before, is that it doesn't directly follow that MLB wants calls to be resolved in ten seconds. To do so would imply the umpires are superfluous window dressing and that the game is really being run from somewhere else. It's not necessarily a bad thing that it takes forever for a replay judgment to come through - it shows A Decision Is Being Made.


Yeah some of the replays have taken over 3 minutes...and i'm not sure what they are talking about for that long. The Royals-White Sox one was terrible, they had 2 angles showing the ball in the glove before the foot hit the bag and they still called him safe.

I don't like it really, I mean i didn't like the bad calls before, but now it just has made a slow game even slower.

   89. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:49 AM (#4681672)
The other thing that people ignore is that arguments are fun. If you've ever been in a ballpark when a manager and an umpire are going toe to toe the place is typically going crazy. The fans are either cheering on the local manager to give the ump what for or they are telling the ump to eject that unreasonable opposing manager. Replays are just a bunch of sitting around twiddling your thumbs.

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