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Is Instant Replay in the MLB Rewriting the Rules?

As of Monday June 23rd there have been 567 challenges utilizing the new instant replay in the MLB, of those 567 challenges 270 of those had been overturned, or about 47.6% according to ballsavant.com. The force play has been challenged the most with about 43% of those 576. Tag plays represent the second highest percentage challenged with 33.2%. Interestingly, there is one play that has been challenged 9 times and has subsequently been overturned all 9 times, the trap play. This is the only play that has been overturned every time it has been challenged.

Personally, I am not a fan of the instant replay. I much preferred the human element of the game, where people are allowed to make mistakes and are not scrutinized for every decision they make. We all know that everyone is human and mistakes are going to be made, but I also believe in such things as make-up calls and believe that over the course of a season before instant replay was implemented that everything comes out in wash in the game a very high percentage of the time. I will take this opportunity to show that coaches are human just like umpires and players, and therefore make mistakes. To me it seemed like we implemented replay to negate mistakes and therefore the human element of the game, but no matter how progressive our technology, we will never eliminate the human element. Nor should we want to.

The statistics show that coaches are scared of using their challenges in the early part of games for fear of losing said challenge and subsequently not having a challenge toward the end of the game when it is perceived that the challenge is more important and could have a greater effect on the outcome of the game. But if a call is wrong, a call is wrong, no matter what inning it occurs in. So is the fear of failure, and the subtraction of the human element, causing them the agony of defeat? The most challenges by far have come in the final three innings of games (216) but have the least amount of successful overturns (38%). In the middle three innings the challenges decrease (177) but the percentage of them that are actually overturned increases as well (49.2%). While challenges in the first three innings decrease even more (156) yet the percentage of calls overturned increases dramatically (59%). By these numbers, if the coach of your favorite team is not challenging plays early in the ball-game (remember if they win, they receive another challenge to use later in the game) where there is a higher probability of winning the challenge rather than saving the challenge till the end of the game where the probability is the lowest, then they could be costing their team to lose by their mismanagement. It has often been said that coaches seldom affect the actual outcome of the game. But replay has rewritten the rules.

  • John Meloche

    At times it seems like there is some “umpire protection” going on. In watching the Jays games I have seen numerous plays that where very obvious not overturned. I have no idea how Reyes missed tag at the plate last night did not get overturned.