MLB Replay Growing Increasingly Pointless
Back in 2015, Chase Utley tackled Ruben Tejada way outside of the baseline, broke Tejada’s leg, and he never bothered to touch second base. As Tejada writhed in pain and had to be carted off the field, MLB replay officials awarded Utley second base.
Think of the outright absurdity of that. The Mets couldn’t challenge Utley was out of the baseline. They couldn’t challenge interference. However, the Dodgers could challenge a player not touching the base was safe, and they’d actually win the challenge.
That should’ve been a seminal moment in replay. That’s where MLB needed to decide they wanted to get the plays correct and not make this a system about technicalities and perpetuating errors.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what its become.
We each have calls over the years which have benefited and hurt our team where we thought replay was going to overturn it only for replay to just confirm the ridiculously wrong call. Perhaps it is just this season, but things seem to be at an all-time worst with the entire replay system.
The first call which comes to mind this year was Michael Conforto. In a tie game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Conforto clearly stuck his elbow out across home plate. Instead of his being rung up on what should’ve been strike three, he was awarded first base, and the Mets won the game.
What a crazy ending to the Mets win in the Home Opener.
Michael Conforto clearly stuck his elbow over the plate.
But you know what? How many times have the Mets not had a game go their way because of some crazy happening. Never apologize for winning. pic.twitter.com/MypiyhUBLw
— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldABC) April 8, 2021
Don Mattingly sought to challenge the call, and all the replay booth could do was confirm Conforto was actually hit by the pitch. For some bizarre reason, they were not permitted to see if Conforto put his elbow into the strike zone, or if he even bothered to try to avoid getting hit by the pitch.
Again, if the concept of replay is to get the calls right, they should have a system in getting the calls right. When you defer to just outright bad and blown calls, your system is failing. That’s not just the case with “judgment calls.” That’s with every call.
As an aside, calling some calls judgment calls and others not is just absurd. Literally every call an umpire makes is a judgment call. They have to judge if the ball is a strike or an out. It’s a judgment as to whether the runner reached the bag ahead of the fielder catching it and applying the tag. It is a judgment as to whether a ball was caught. The same goes for interference calls, hit by pitches, running in the baseline, or whatever calls fall under the purview of “judgment calls.”
However, you could see the reticence of allowing replay officials to handle that when they got the obvious calls right. Case-in-point was Elvis Andrus being called out on home in the game between the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
It was a bizarre play where Tony Kemp hit a pop up which landed out of Joey Wendle‘s reach. The ball took one of those AstroTurf hops, and Andrus, who was running with two outs, tried to take advantage of all the confusion by trying to score from first. Home Plate Umpire Sean Barber ruled Mike Zunino tagged out Andrus. The only problem was he didn’t. That is what led to the Athletics challenging the call, which was somehow . . . upheld?
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) April 27, 2021
There is literally no replay which exists which shows Andrus out. It doesn’t exist, and yet, somehow, the play was upheld. It’s an embarrassment for Major League Baseball that this happened, and really, that this continues to happen. The only good thing we can say is it did not cost the Athletics the game as they would hold onto that 2-1 lead.
At the moment, replay has become Russian roulette. You really never know what is going to happen. There is no rhyme or reason. The clearly blown call stands because of reasons that confound reason. When you have a system that blows calls again upon review, and you cannot review other clearly blown calls, there is simply no point to having the system.
At the moment, Major League Baseball has two options. They should be overhauling the system top to bottom to ensure ALL CALLS are correct, or they should be scrapping the entire system. That’s the position they put themselves in when we see how this dysfunctional system is working.