The real problem with replay

A lot of umpires are dead set against replay. They rave about changing the game, the human element and other arguments. They might kick me out of the union (expression, I don’t think amateur umpires have a union), but I seriously don’t mind replay.

If I am on the field and legitimately kick one, I feel it in my soul for weeks. Knowing a call could change the course of the game I am fine with the mantra of “get it right”.

In my mind though, I do have one small issue with replay. Here is a play that brings it up:


Umpiring author, rules guru and overall legend Carl Childress has a mantra that a simple play deserves a simple call. In other words, if the ball beats the runner to the base by 30 feet, that runner is out. Don’t go looking for trouble by saying his foot got under the glove a millisecond before the tag.

I think all involved in the game are fine with this approach. The announcers in this clip are fine with the out. Heck the offensive team does not seem too bothered by the original out call.

The clip does not show it, but this call was overturned on replay. The catcher in waiting for the runner (who sort of went slow and slid at the last minute) did not get his glove down.

What is this going to cause in the future? Certainly more plate contact. This catcher is now either going to drop a knee once he has the ball (he cannot do it before or it would violate Rule 7.13) and take a hit. Or, he is going to run up the line and tag the runner hard i the chest.

At this point readers are probably thinking eliminating some replays due to safety is hooey. Except they already do it! The “neighborhood play” is not subject to review. This is where the pivot man on the double play cheats a bit when taking the first throw. His foot might sneak off second a moment before he catches the ball.

Why is he doing this? Safety. If review was used all the time to uphold the front end of double plays, there would be a lot more contact.

So how do you execute this change – I don’t know yet. I am just the idea man.

A simple play deserves a simple call.

Home Plate collisions are on page 59 of RuleGraphics.

Voluntary Release

Finally, the long winter is over and there are loads of baseball games to watch. With all the baseball, there will be a slew of situations to review.

Here is an interesting one from Texas/Oakland last evening.

The second baseman gloves the ball (and I carefully chose the word “gloves”). He does not have control of his body. As he steadies himself the glove hits the ground and the ball falls out.

This is not a catch. The ground can cause a “fumble” in baseball. The umpires will be looking for a “voluntary release” to know a catch is secured. If the drop would have occurred as he reached into his glove, a catch would have been ruled.

A lot of people ask me why umpires wait so darn long to call an out on a routine play at first. Often you see the ball in the glove well before the runner and the ump waits and nonchalantly calls an out. He is not showboating. He is waiting for the voluntary release. Only when this second action occurs can a catch be assured.

Catch is covered on page 28 of RuleGraphics.