Oh, happy day! Bud Selig has seen the light and "evolved" his opinion on instant replay thanks in no small part to recent rash of inconceivably stupid blown calls that the likes of Angel Hernandez and Fieldin Culbreth have subjected us to in recent weeks. The end result is that the ol' used car salesman is might be ready to relent and allow the expanded use of instant replay in time for the 2014 season. Of course, in Bud's infinite wisdom, he hasn't yet figured out exactly how that replay will work. This despite the fact that MLB has supposedly been "studying" the use of expanded replay for most of this century.
Since Selig and his appointed acolyte Joe Torre are stuck hemming and hawing over just how to implement this new system, we've taken it upon ourselves to lay out a plan that should be palatable to coaches, players and fans alike.
What should be reviewed?
First things first, MLB needs to determine which kind of plays are even eligible for review. Baseball is such a crazy game of inches that one could easily micromanage the bahjeezus out of instant replay to the point that there are a dozen replay situations per game. There is also the so called "human element" that the league seems to be quite intent on protecting out of some bizarre sense of nostalgia. As such, anything that is even remotely a judgment call should be considered off limits lest we want instant replay to rankle the traditionalists more than it already does.
That's a good thing because it really narrows down the potential replay opportunities. Home run boundary calls are already replay eligible, so it seems like a logical next step to include fair-foul boundary calls. Those kind of calls get blown with some regularity but mostly because umpires just can't be in a good position to make a proper call. This shouldn't upset anyone.
Similarly, the catch/trap call seems like it falls into the same bucket of umpires getting the call wrong because of their lack of vantage point. Cleaning those up should be easy and also shouldn't be too offensive to the "human element."
Where things get tricky is considering safe/out calls at bases. Somehow these have been designated as judgment calls even though there really isn't much ambiguity when you have the benefit of a high definition, slow-mo video replay at your disposal. But umpires get these calls wrong all the time, so they have declared them to be judgment calls if only to get people off their backs. Alas, there can be several close plays at a base every single game which creates a real threat of replay slowing games down. An effective compromise then would be to limit replay to plays at home since there is a much more at stake for such a call than on a bang-bang play at first base in the top of the ninth with the road team trailing by seven runs. This would be very similar to the NFL system where they place increased replay scrutiny on plays in the end zone.
That should be all there is. Boundary calls, trap calls and plays at the plate. None of this BS that the NFL has where nobody really knows if a certain kind of play in a certain part of the field is reviewable or not that results in a lot of coaches screaming at befuddled referees. And there definitely won't be any special rules based on the inning of the game. The last thing MLB wants to do is replicate the NBA model where every third play inside the final two minutes of the game results in a stoppage for video review.