Major League Baseball’s instant replay system is a mess.
Compared to the system used in tennis (and cricket), it is clear that baseball has a ways to go before they enter the 21st century.
In MLB, if there is a question of whether or not a ball is a home run, it first starts with one manager running all the way on to the field to argue the call. The umpires may then huddle for a minute or two.
At this point, if they deem it necessary, three of the umpires will jog off the field into a tunnel and watch several replays on a monitor. They will discuss what they see, run back on to the field and make a ruling.
The entire process can take five minutes or more, and as we have seen, can still be wrong (see example below).
In tennis, the Hawk-Eye system uses a series of cameras to track the trajectory of the ball creating a 3-dimensional computerized image of where the ball is at all times. If a player challenges the call, a graphic is immediately produced to show whether or not the ball was in.
Here is one example of what one of those images looks like at Wimbledon…
And if necessary, the image will zoom in with an amazing level of resolution and accuracy (this replay was used during a recent Novak Djokovic match):
Instant replay in tennis takes seconds (see video below), has an accuracy within a few millimeters, and the sport has been using it since 2006!
The system even has its own sponsorship deal at Grand Slam events, such as the one with Rolex in the image above.
Seven years later and MLB still has umpires running off the field to look at a replay that every fan at home has already seen 2-3 times.
Tennis gets it. They give their umpires access to information that is as good, and often better, than the information the fans have at home. MLB can’t say the same thing.
Until MLB gets serious about instant replay, sports like tennis will continue to make the sport of baseball look like a joke.
Here is an example of a recent use of replay at Wimbledon showing how the entire process takes seconds…
And here is an example from Major League Baseball where the game stops for more than five minutes and the umpires still got the call wrong…
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