Episode 3: June 21, 2010
It seems instant replay review is destined to be a part of baseball at some point. How will it affect the game? Schuyler Dunlap weighs in on how instant replay could be implemented. I remain skeptical that it’s a good thing for the sport.
Please note: this is not an exact transcription of the episode.
I didn't think I was going to talk about this but people keep bringing it up so I guess we'll go over it once and be done with it. The issue is instant replay and well, frankly, I think it stinks.
I'm Alex Reisner and you're listening to Game of Chance, a show about baseball statistics, culture, and the role of luck in baseball.
This issue became a hot topic with Jim Joyce's blown call of Armando Galarraga's perfect game the other week and I can understand people's frustration, but instant replay for me brings up awful memories of football games where we have to interrupt the flow of the game while we wait for the officials to see if they screwed up. The pace of baseball is part of what I enjoy about the game and I'm not looking forward to seeing it interrupted while the umpires leave the field to go watch TV. I think it's coming. I think as the technology improves and we expect fewer mistakes in life in general, getting cameras and computers involved in baseball is going to become irresistable.
Anyway, here to discuss the issue we have our Boston correspondent Schuyler Dunlap.
SD: Replay is coming.
AR: Ha ha. Yeah, not on my watch.
SD: So you're anti-replay.
AR: Not completely, but I do think it needs to be done in a way that's sensitive to the flow of the game. As you know I'm a tennis fan and I think it works well there...
SD: It works *really* well in tennis.
AR: Yeah, and their system even adds a kind of strategic aspect to the game where you have a limited number of challenges and you lose something if you're wrong.
SD: Well, that's how it works in football too...
SD: ... there are going to be fewer instances where stuff goes wrong. I think.
AR: Alright, but what about balls and strikes? As I said in the first episode a ball or stike could be as significant in a game as a call at a base or a fair/foul call. So, I mean, do you think we can or should see replays for ball and strike calls?
SD: ... and they get it right more.
AR: Wow, you know I've never heard of the umpires moving based on where the pitcher stands on the rubber, but that does kind of make sense.
SD: ... makes sense because that's where Maddux lives.
AR: Yeah, alright.
SD: And I don't think it's going to take that long ...
... pushed the game one way or the other.
AR: That's true, but to me that's a part of the game. You know, there are so many missed ball and strike calls, throughout history, that could have made a huge difference in important games, like a strike being called a ball which gives the batter an extra pitch, and then he hits a home run.
You know, the replay works in tennis, but baseball is not tennis. The rules and the field of play in tennis are much more static, right? And I think if you're going to add replay review for some calls but not others...I just don't know exactly what you gain by doing that, and I almost worry that it could affect strategy in some way we don't anticipate.
SD: ... I think you get it right, if you can get it right.
AR: OK, well we'll see what happens. I know there's a lot of people out there who want the umpires to get more calls right. If you have any thoughts on this you should comment on this episode at gameofchance.alexreisner.com. Schuyler, thanks for your time I hope we can hear from you again in a future episode.
SD: Alright, Alex thanks man. I'll talk to you later.
AR: Alright, well that does it for instant replay, although you know the statisticians are going to love it because there will be a whole new category of replay-related stats. And again, I really just don't want the game to be delayed any more than it already is. I'm also skeptical about the use of video technology in baseball only because it's so hard to do. You know the pitch-tracking system that's been running in all the Major League parks for the past few years that tell you type speed and type of each pitch and map the trajectory on TV...that system has some serious calibration problems because the cameras are installed in slightly different locations at each park. The guys over at Baseball Prospectus have done some good studies on that. Anyway, we'll see what happens with the replay. I'll talk to you about something else next week.
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