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March 13, 2014

Skewed Left

The Good and the Bad News About Instant Replay's Spring Trial

by Zachary Levine


I give it one year until there’s a fundamental change to Major League Baseball’s new replay system.

I’d give it even less time if we weren’t less than three weeks from baseball season. While MLB certainly isn’t opposed to going seat-of-the-pants on this, the league probably won’t want to make another major change so soon.

But in a year, I’m counting on it.

What we’ve learned from watching the first two weeks of replay review trials in spring training is that the lack of a deterrent is going to be a problem. “Don’t overanalyze spring training stats” might apply here too, but we already saw this coming. Tuesday’s Mariners-Angels game saw the 21st challenge of spring training and the end to a streak that you could see as either embarrassing for the game or good for the umpires, who were 20-for-20 in upholding the other 20 challenged calls.

And why not issue challenges that are unlikely to be upheld? In their January piece at Baseball Prospectus, Dan Brooks and Russell Carleton showed that there’s almost no reason to hold back from challenging anything. The only deterrent is running out of challenges, which would require three close calls in six innings to work against you, and that never happens.

If baseball was looking for an encouraging soft launch of its product, this hasn’t been it. Not even so much for the sideshows or for Joe Maddon already trying to beat the system, because you knew there’d be some of that, but for the managers’ 0-for-20 start, which was also somewhat predictable.

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Related Content:  Managers,  Umpires,  Instant Replay,  Challenges

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Competi... (03/13)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Art o... (03/06)
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Premium Article Skewed Left: Where Are... (03/20)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast... (03/14)

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