Blog Entry

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

Posted on: September 19, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 3:23 pm
By Matt Snyder

We have yet another example in a long line of examples that MLB's instant replay system is badly flawed. Monday afternoon, the Red Sox trailed the Orioles 6-4 with a runner on third base. David Ortiz sent a rocket down the right field line and it was ruled foul. Only one problem: Replays showed that the ball clearly hit the wall in fair territory, probably about one foot to the left of the foul pole (if you're facing it).

Ortiz would fly out to end the inning, and the picture at right is his reaction after said fly out.

Now, if there was no replay at all, this wouldn't be an issue. The human element -- as we so often hear as an excuse -- says the umpire just missed a tough call. The ball was hit incredibly hard and he was standing more than 100 feet away. It's understandable that he missed it.

What's not understandable is that Major League Baseball uses replay to determine whether a ball is a home run or not, yet doesn't use replay to determine fair/foul calls. It's very simple. The ball is either fair or foul. The technology is at our disposal. Yet it's not used. Can anyone justify this?

Even if the umpire didn't miss this particular call -- and I guess it's possible the ball barely grazed the wall in foul territory, I just don't think it did -- the point remains the same. Why isn't instant replay used on fair/foul calls?

The arguments against replay here don't hold any water. It's a boundary play, so there's no judgment whatsoever. The delay of the umpires conferring with one another and Red Sox manager Terry Francona's subsequent argument was longer than if the umpires had just looked at a video screen and realized it was a fair ball.

Even if the MLB still holds this "human element" near and dear to its heart on possible catches, plays at bases and with the strike zone, it has to at least admit that fair/foul calls are boundary calls just like home runs. You review one, so review the other. Or do neither. Pick one.

As things stand, it's just unbalanced. Kind of like only one league having a DH, huh?

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Category: MLB
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 3:22 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 8:03 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:15 pm

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

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Since: Sep 6, 2011
Posted on: September 20, 2011 11:16 am

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

The ball was a foul ball.  It ricocheted off the right field wall in foul territory before striking the sign in fair ball. 

I suppose another thing we could have in baseball, is disallowing commentators and sports writers to come to conclusions that flawed, based on their own biases and "homeristic" tendencies, and present those opinions over national television and/or sports articles as if they were fact.  

Since: Feb 17, 2007
Posted on: September 20, 2011 1:20 am

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

If the ball touches the line, anywhere, it's a fair ball.  It has to be completely to the right of the line to be foul, and it clearly wasn't.

As for the earlier comment about whether Papi would have had a single?   The ball was past the right fielder and rolling towards the bullpens as Papi stopped halfway between 1st and 2nd.   It was a choice between a double and a triple.   It would have been a sure triple, IMHO, but the umps probably would have given him only a double.

Since: Sep 9, 2007
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:19 am

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

This idiot is ready to comment..Anyone watch West's strike zone move all over the place the other day in the Rockies Giants game?  Technology exists (simple really) to judge wether or not a ball crossed the plate or not and it's relative height to the batters stance. Cain was getting jobbed as pitchers have over the centuries (as we enter our 3rd? of pro baseball). Here is one case where I say outsource the jobs (approx 75 MLB umps) and get Cisco to install the systems to GET THE CALL RIGHT EVERY TIME.

 A bitter Cardinal Fan who wishes Don Denkinger didn't screw the Cardinals out of ANOTHER Championship!

Since: May 12, 2009
Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:26 pm

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

Wondered how long before some idiot makes this comment.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:23 pm

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

The problem with replay on that type of play is there isn't only 1 outcome of the play after the ruling is made and the ruling of a foul ball effectively ends the play. Football and basketball calls are generally at the end of the play with the reversed outcome very apparent. If the umpire calls it foul and the runner heads back to the plate, it is another judgement call by the umpire to tell where the runner would end up. Does Ortiz get a single? The outfielder obviously wouldn't make the same effort to throw him out after a foul ball.

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:15 pm

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

Much as I’d like to have seen Papi get that big hit, I’ve got to admit… on the very last of the several slo-mo replays they showed, I could see that the ball just *barely* grazed the wall in foul territory before going on to more solidly strike the “Scott’s used here” sign on the other side of the line. I froze it on my DVR and gave it the frame-by-frame treatment, and you can see the padding on the wall dimple just a tiny bit as the ball touches it on the foul side. Oh, well… I’m afraid it might just be another of those “not our year” omens.

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:06 pm

Flaw in replay system exposed yet again

But there's the same problem on the home run, Balrog01. I wrote about it earlier this year. If a ball is ruled a home run, all the runners score. But then they go back and review and realize it's not a home run, so they're stuck guessing where every runner would have ended up. My proposal on foul balls just as I said on the home run rule is to act like the NFL does on fumbles. Play it out, and then go back and review. You can backtrack, but not guess forward. Just like you said. So we actually agree here.

Here's the link to what I'm referencing:




- Matt

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