This Bud’s for you: use instant replay in post season, “now, it really counts!”


The Endless Season between the last out of the World Series and the arrival of pitchers and catchers for Spring training gives Red Sox Nation citizens time to ponder things like instant replay.

On opposite sides of the Hot Stove sit the Traditionalists, who are against using non-human media and say: “Umpires mistakes are part of the game; they all even out in a 162-game season.” and the Techno-Modernists, like the great Tony LaRussa, who said: “There’s nothing wrong with using replay. The number one priority for the umpire is to get the play right.”

The “Trads” argue that games are already too long and pausing the action for the umpires to review plays would make for 4 to 5 hour games. Alan Selig, Commissioner for Life, who led Luddite team owners in stubborn opposition to using replays, made these contributions to the intellectual repartee:

"“It’s been said for 150 years that you can’t remove the human element from baseball.”“Most baseball people are really against it. There’s no question about it.”But, Bud, it took baseball nearly 150 years to integrate and most baseball people were against it. There’s no question about it."

Bud, maybe you have a bunch of little plastic “baseball people” mixed in with your soldiers and cowboys and Indians, but, real people, the managers, fans, and even umpires favor instant replay. Managers like Tampa’s Joe Maddon, the Pirates’ Clint Hurdle, and Tony LaRussa (Cardinals) have all given their stamp of approval; so, Bud, I dare you to take a poll of your other managers and the fans and not just listen to the owners or your little “baseball people.”

"[Before you assume that your correspondent is against tradition in baseball, I offer my undying hatred of the Designated Hitter rule and I long for the days when the average salary for a player was less than $6 million. Or a future where teams are owned by the fans, like the Green Bay Packers; salaries are determined by computer formula based on your performance the previous season(s) and hitters must keep one foot in the batter’s box and, once the ump points to the pitcher and yells “Pitch!” and, if the hitter isn’t ready, too bad! But I ramble…]"

Tech-Mods say that instant replay in other sports has worked well and would not delay a game longer than a majority of batters leaving the box and wandering around, pulling on their batting gloves and cups, or invoking magic with incantations to variuos deities. They point out that baseball fans want instant replay; after Detroit starter Armando Galarraga was robbed of his perfect game in June of 2010, 78 percent came out in favor of instant replay.

For now, Post season instant replay is on hold, since Selig is supporting  the recommendation of his self-appointed Special Committee for On-Field Matters.

“I brought the subject up, as I always do with everybody,” Selig said. “I don’t get the feeling that there’s a lot of support for it, at least their conversations with me.”

“We’re analyzing things. Our committee said we need to study it more, maybe have a few more months of study.”

In direct contrast to the claim that there isn’t much groundswell in support of expanded replay,’s Jayson Stark has been talking to managers for a couple months about replay and 75 percent of the ones he’s talked to want to see more of it.

So, what’s my bright idea?

Stipulating that over the course of a 162-game season, wrong calls by umpires will even out within statistical reasonability, I offer the case for using instant replay in the post season games, where one ump can negate a team’s entire season with a single wrong call. In Bud World, we are likely to have two teams eliminated in a one-game playoff for the two Wild Card slots, where one innocent perceptual breakdown on a hit ball could be a calamity of injustice.

Submitted for your consideration: in a game in the 2009 Major League Baseball postseason, Joe Mauer roped a ball into the left-field corner for a double; with the aid of multiple cameras and angles, millions of people saw it land fair, but one person called it foul.

And, hey Bud, what about that other 2009 postseason, when Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada were tagged out by Mike Napoli, but the ump ruled safe?

How fair is it for a team to labor for over SIX months and 162 games to make it to the post season, only to be eliminated during a 7-game, 5-game, or 1-game series by one botched call?

Why not use the instant replay during the post season?

Try to follow me, Bud; let’s imagine this example:

"With the game on the line, two outs, a 3 and 2 count a pinch hitter for the NL champs drives the ball high in the air into Right field; the RF drifts back, back, back and, right at the foul pole, leaps to spear the ball. The ball hits the webbing of his glove and drops into the stands.Fair or foul? Fan interference or not?The foul line umpire rules: no fan interference, “Foul ball!”But, the ball was in fair territory before the RF touched it with his glove; had he not touched it, it would have been fair and a game ending home run.Instant replay!The network that is broadcasting the games is required to uses a minimum of 14 cameras and to provide instant access to replays to the umpires on the field and the Team of 3 Supervising Umpires [my addition to the system] elsewhere in the stadium.The umpire who made the call goes to a replay station and watches the evidence. He consults with the other umpires to learn how they “saw the play.” Concurrently, the 3-member panel of Supervising Umpires reviews the play and takes a vote on it. The home plate umpire calls the 3-ump panel and reports the conclusion of the umpires on the field. The Chief Supervising umpire in the booth explains the decision of the panel. If the field umpires disagree with the panel, the panel ruling stands.The home plate umpire returns to the plate and uses hand signals to give the ruling:Fair ball! Home run!He reports it to the public address announcer, who informs the crowd.To save time, no appeal, and, any member of either team that runs onto the field to argue is automatically ejected. Without any expectation of a reversal of the ruling, after the game, either manager may meet, privately, with the panel of three Supervising umpires to discuss the ruling; a manager who argues to excess will be ejected from the meeting. The contents of the meeting are to remain confidential, unless the Chief Supervising umpire deems it appropriate to discuss the ruling with the media, or any other persons.And, no, Bud, the Commissioner cannot over-rule the decision of the Supervising panel, even “in the best interests of the game.”  [And, while we’re at it, Bud, from now on, the umpires decide when a World Series game ends, not the Commissioner or Al Roker.]"

Instant replay was first officially employed in September, 2008, when Alex Rodriguez hit a 2-2 pitch from Rays closer Troy Percival high over the foul pole in left in the ninth inning and the ball ricocheted off the D-ring catwalk. Third-base umpire Brian Runge, son of the famous umpire Paul Runge, ruled the ball fair.

In a very civil tone Rays’ manager Maddon appealed the decision with the umpires.

After huddling with his colleagues, Crew chief Charlie Reliford, headed for the dugout to view several replays.

“We all believed it was a home run, but since the technology is in place, we made the decision to use the technology and go look at the replays,” Reliford said.

“And the replays we reviewed were conclusive that the call we made was correct,” Reliford said. “We had it going right over the pole. All four of us had it going right over the pole on the field. And our views of the replays confirmed that. It was not inconclusive; it was conclusive that Brian’s call was correct.”

The crew took two minutes and 15 seconds to make the call.

Although the call went against his team, Tampa catcher Dionner Navarro described the umpire’s post-replay call as “perfect” and said: “Sometimes it takes longer for the manager to get kicked out of the game.”   The replay process took just 2 minutes and 15 seconds. It would have taken the likes of Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, or Leo Durocher way longer to get ejected.

But, that was not the first time a Major league umpire used replay technology.

It was umpire Frank Pulli in in 1999, before there was a replay rule, who, applying common sense and a desire to protect the integrity of the game, walked over to the Marlins’ dugout to review the replay of a home run call. Then, to his everlasting credit, Pulli changed the call; he said the Marlins Cliff Floyd’s drive did not clear the wall and sent Floyd back to second base.

Bud, listen to Frank Pulli: “At that moment, I thought it was the proper thing to do.”

"And, Bud, I see you are dozing off again, so, to show that you have respect for the integrity of the game of baseball, since 22-year veteran ump Jim Joyce chose not use instant replay and said: “It was the biggest call of my career and I kicked it. I just cost that kid a perfect game.”—give Galarraga his perfect game."

For all the latest news and analysis from BoSox Injection, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or with our RSS feed.