Tag Archives: instant replay

Upon Further Review, Scrap College Football Replay

As we stand upon the brink of the 137th year of college football, there are few things that could be changed that would make the game itself better.  But, no single game-centric issue needs more fixin’ than the system for college football replays.

We love the college game and it is simply better than the NFL in most ways.  However, the college football replays system should, without question, be conducted the same way they do it in professional football.

Two Scenarios That Capture the Shortfalls of College Football Replays

It’s first and goal at the 2-yard line when a powerful tailback goes off tackle and into a pile.  The officials can’t tell if the ball crossed the goal line because of the mass of humanity mashing against each other.  When the dust clears, the officials make a call…

Whether the refs ruled a touchdown or not is irrelevant here.  Why?  Because you can guarantee that play will be stopped and we’ll all lose patience watching the different angles to see if the guy got in.

The next scenario looks like this.  The offense faces 2nd & 9 at their own 32 late in the first quarter when the QB completes a three-yard pass that may or may not truly have been complete.  When the initial replay is shown, it’s unclear as to whether the nose of the ball hit the ground or if the receiver got his hands under the ball.

No matter.  The “genius” eye in the sky stops play to look at the play from every angle except the receiver’s helmet cam.  Four minutes go by when the ref pulls off the headphones and announces that the call on the field stands.  The result?  It’s now 3rd & 6 instead of 3rd & 9.  Wow!  That’s progress, right?

Upon Further Review…

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going back to the way it was for over a century.  No replay.  The refs make the call and the call is final.  Now, get to the line of scrimmage and let’s play.

But, that will never happen and continuing this system makes us bleed from the eyeballs.  So, here’s a solution.

The NFL system puts the decision on the coach.  In both of the aforementioned scenarios, the coach of the defensive team probably never would’ve wasted his challenge on those plays.

If he challenges scenario A and wins, there’s still a good chance that the QB will score on a sneak from the 3-inch line on the next play anyway.  He’d save his challenge for a different scenario.

If he challenges scenario B and wins, the offense is just as likely to convert on third down whether they need six or nine yards.  Again, he’d save his challenge.

In the college system, there are already stoppages in play that destroy the flow of the game and the involuntary replay stoppage makes the games almost unbearable for the fans inside the stadium.  If coaches were given one challenge, they would be likely to use them carefully and then the fans would not be subjected to the endless delays that disrupt the flow and, ultimately, make the games longer.

Instead, the Rules Committee chooses to completely ignore the flaws in the replay system.  The inherent flaw with their approach to their decisions is that millionaire head coaches are the Rules Committee and the last thing they want is more accountability.  So, they leave it up to the replay official to remove the burden.  To boot, this change to the system would result in fewer replays and speed up the game, which will give the networks more dependable windows of time for their broadcasts.

Again, college football is the greatest sport on the planet and I hate to seem like I’m bashing this thing I schedule my year around.  But if I were Czar, I’d make this change to make it that much better.

E-mail Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MarkCFried.

Photo courtesy of Brian Cantoni on Flickr.

ACC Links: Rivalries, Replays, and Deshaun Watson

Rivalry Games

Rivalry Week is always one of my favorite parts of the season. Of course, the worst part about it is that it signifies the end of the regular season. But the best part about it is that I always know which teams my favorite teams will be playing year after year. I can plan accordingly months in advance…more than months in advance, actually. While Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher admittedly has a pretty great Rivalry Week game with the Florida Gators on the schedule every season, apparently that set rivalry game isn’t quite enough for him. Fisher lobbies time and time again to try to get other coaches on board with set weekends for ACC football rivalries as well. What if Clemson and Florida State played on the same weekend every season? How would that affect the ACC? While the consistency is good in certain respects, it could also just make scheduling more difficult for other teams when you start adding in more games like that. So maybe Fisher isn’t going to get any immediate results, but it seems pretty clear that he won’t let go of this idea.

Instant Replay Officials

As football fans, we all experience it: that moment when it seems like we can see something so much clearer on television than the officials who are reviewing it at the stadium can. Or what about that moment when one play gets called a certain way in one game but gets called the opposite way in another game? The ACC has made a move to try to make those problems a thing of the past. It’s all about consistency. To achieve this consistency, they’ll be using instant-replay officials in the conference’s Greensboro, NC office to participate in every review discussion during home games at ACC football venues, as well as during Notre Dame’s home games. While this move is not a permanent one at the time, after testing it out this season, we can expect the NCAA Football Rules Committee to make its judgment about off-site replay officials after the end of the 2016 season. The SEC has recently opted to follow suit, and will be testing its own version of this system during the 2016 season as well.

Deshaun Watson and Clemson’s Offense

On Tuesday, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson officially accepted the Manning Award for his performance as the top-performing quarterback throughout the 2015 college football season. Watson had a phenomenal season last year, posting incredible numbers. He finished with 4,104 yards passing, 35 passing touchdowns, 1,105 yard rushing, and 12 additional scores. Watson actually nearly single-handedly led the Clemson Tigers in an incredible comeback against the Alabama Crimson Tide during that National Championship Game last season.

But what does this mean for Clemson’s offense looking ahead? Fortunately for the Tigers, Watson was only a sophomore last season and is therefore returning as their starting quarterback this season. Although Clemson wasn’t particularly strong when it came to rushing the ball, Watson’s talent as a passer and while scrambling gave them plenty of options to try. Last season, the Tigers threw mostly quick passes. This season, there’s hope that they’ll be able to burn teams on some deep pass plays as well. With the return of Mike Williams from injury, Watson should have a great target downfield for those longer plays. But the offensive line needs to execute better, too, if they want to give Watson enough time to get off those passes accurately. Either way, Watson returning is huge for the Tigers. Whether or not the rest of the team steps up to play closer to his level remains to be seen.


Picture courtesy of Ken Lund.

MLB Thoughts Through the Post-Season

The 2015 post-season has been one of my favorites, at least when the Boston Red Sox were not in the mix. One of the major reasons is that 7 of the 8 teams who made it through to the L.D.S.1St. Louis excepted have not won a World Series title since at least 1993.  That makes for exciting viewing, knowing that there is likely to be ‘new’ blood when it comes to who will hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of October.  With the Cubs managing to take out the *best* team in baseball, it is now a guarantee that there will be a new title holder when the MLB post-season comes to a conclusion.  As I’ve enjoyed the tournament, here are some of the main thoughts that have run through my mind.

Continue reading MLB Thoughts Through the Post-Season

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1. St. Louis excepted

If I Had Been Made MLB Commissioner

If I had been chosen MLB commissioner (and I’m sad to report, I was never seriously in the running, despite my bona fides), I’m pretty sure that I would not have handled my first day in office the same way as current commish Rob Manfred.  I imagine that I wouldn’t have gone out on the network tour and talked up all the bad points about the game I allegedly love and want to grow.  No, my first day on the job would have had a much different flavor, to say the least.

Continue reading If I Had Been Made MLB Commissioner

The Red Sox Are Nearly a .500 Team

After yet another 1 run loss on Sunday (their 7th of the year already), the Boston Red Sox find themselves sitting at 15-17, two full games back of the N.Y. Yankees (3 back in the loss column.)  Considering the rash of injuries they’ve suffered, and their lack of timely hitting, that’s not too bad.  Eventually, they need to start winning games on a more regular basis, because it is not statistically possible that the entire East will continue to hover around the .500 mark.

Continue reading The Red Sox Are Nearly a .500 Team

MLB's Instant Replay Is a Joke

During my time at the MTAF Network, the only topic that I’ve spent more time on than MLB’s replay system is that of MLB’s PED problem.  There are those who have argued that neither PEDs nor replay is a problem for MLB.  Perhaps they are correct, but there’s a lot of work to be done on both fronts before I’m convinced.

Continue reading MLB's Instant Replay Is a Joke

MLB Replay Review: Despite Early Challenges and Fan Unrest, It’s Working

We’re now officially a full week into the 2014 Major League Baseball season and one thing is already very clear: The new replay review and challenge system instituted by MLB has become a lighting rod for fans and media alike.

In just one week I’ve heard so many complaints, I don’t know where to start, so I’m just going to address the most popular complaints.

#1. The challenge and review process takes too long. The stats from opening day showed the review process took an average of 1 minute 39 seconds or the amount of time Rafael Betancourt takes between pitches (actually that seemed much longer, but I digress). In reality, there have been challenges that have taken three to five minutes to complete (see: Cle VS. Oak), which is indeed too long, but the point is, after all, to get the call right.

#2. Instant replay takes the human element out of the game. Instant replay does not remove the human element. Umpires will continue to call the game, and they will still make mistakes. The “challenge” system offers managers the opportunity to right some of those wrongs, though not necessarily all of the mistakes that could be made. The managers will have one or two chances to “challenge” a call, depending on the result of the first challenge. The San Francisco Giants found this out the hard way against the Arizona Diamondbacks when manager Bruce Bochy challenged a pick-off attempt at first base only to have the challenge go against him. Two plays later, the home plate umpire blatantly missed a safe/out call at home plate and, despite numerous protests, Bochy was unable to have the call reviewed since he lost his initial challenge. Hence the “human element” is still very much in play.

#3. The “flow” of the game is interrupted. One of the biggest complaints by many observers of baseball is that the game takes too long. MLB has taken steps to improve the “flow” and speed of the game by adjusting rules for pitchers and hitters alike. One thing that has always interrupted the “flow” is a blown call or perceived blown call. In the past, every time there was a controversial call or play that a manager didn’t agree with, you’d immediately see said manager storm out of the dugout and rush straight for that umpire. People seem to forget that those tirades would take three, four, five, heck, even ten minutes long when Lou Pinella was tossing bases or caps, or kicking up a Pigpen-esque cloud of dirt. They don’t think of the amount of time wasted because of the entertainment value of those tantrums, which is something you don’t get during a replay review, but hey, at least now people will get to view the controversial play on the Jumbotron, which didn’t happen previously.

#4. The spirit and history of the game will be tainted. I’ve heard some people say that instant replay ruins the spirit or history of the game and that they wont watch it anymore. In my opinion, if people are going to stop watching baseball because of instant replay, then they really weren’t fans in the first place. As far as the spirit and history comments go, the only history I can think of is blown calls deciding games rather than players and skill. I believe one of the truest statements of all time is that you never know the names of the best umpires in the game because, when an umpire does his job, he doesn’t become part of the game or history.

My best example of this occurred during a Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers game in 2010 when umpire Jim Joyce blew an out call at first base on the 27th batter of the game that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. Instead of going down as one of only 24 pitchers in MLB history to throw a perfect game, Galarraga is just another guy who came close, while Joyce has a asterisk next to his name that’ll never go away.

MLB’s enactment of instant replay and the challenge system isn’t perfect. There will be flaws that reveal themselves in the forms of time delays and missed calls because of managers not having challenges available. MLB has already stated the process is in the beginning stages of a three-year evaluation period. This first season will reveal the flaws and MLB will make the necessary adjustments moving forward. While this implementation of an imperfect system will undoubtedly upset some fans and media, the ultimate goal is to get it right and in the end, what’s wrong with that?

MLB's Replay Boondoggle

Groupthink is one of those things that can be funny, in the hands of the right people.  A story that came out during the holiday season was exploited by the good people over at the Conan O’Brien Show.  They cut together various “news reports” that showed newscasters across the country reading nearly word for word the exact same copy script, with nearly the exact same tone and reactions.  It made for a humorous piece.

What I find less funny is how that exact same type of news ‘reporting’ is going on with MLB’s replay extravaganza.  Experts and non-experts alike are out in full force, stating how great it is that MLB is finally joining the 21st century with regard to their instant replay ideas.  I’ve heard them yammering on about how they just want to “make sure they get every call right”.  Here’s a newsflash- regardless of any technology that you put in place, there’s still going to be mistakes.  It’s simply part of the game, and in fact, it’s part of the beauty of the game.  It’s what leads to great sports’ fights.  Making everything “perfect” is not only impossible, but it takes away the best part of sport for fans:  arguing over how their favorite team got hosed.

My honest thought:  Commissioner-for-life-Selig needs a win.  He thought he was going to get it with Arod, and to a certain degree, he has, but PEDs are still a black eye on the sport, and there’s no escaping the fact that they exploded under his watch, and still continue to be used by both superstars and scrubs alike.  Replay, though, is something that fans are allegedly clamoring for.  This is something he can be on the ‘winning’ side of as he moves towards retirement (ha!)

I’ve expressed my thoughts on replay on a couple of different occasions for the Morethanafan network, so I won’t rehash them too much.  Feel free to check out those posts, and then please vote below to let us know your thoughts.


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Indians Get Lucky; Selig, MLB Should Do Right and Award Home Run

Last night, Angel Hernandez did the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball no favors, but Bud Selig has a chance to correct his egregious mistake. In the ninth inning, a ball, which at first glance didn’t appear to be a home run, was a home run, and the umpires with the assistance of instant replay got the play wrong twice. There is no excuse for this in an era of high definition and instant replay.

I’ve written many times before about not being a fan of instant replay, not only because in general I don’t think it holds officials accountable, but because I believe the systems are setup incorrectly.

After the game, Hernandez said he didn’t have enough evidence to overturn the call. There are but two explanations for this statement: Hernandez is blind or the replay system in the umpires locker room at Progressive Field doesn’t have access to the all the video feeds that everyone else does.

If he is blind, which he obviously is not, it is time for him to retire or move to a position as a supervisor. If the feeds he has access to aren’t the same as everyone else, whomever is responsible for that needs to be held accountable today.

Time date of the incorrect call shouldn’t matter, but imagine if last night’s error had occurred during the playoffs? Oh, right it has.

The only obvious solution to this problem, which is one that big three sports leagues need to adopt, is the same one in which NHL uses: move ALL instant replay functions to a central location. This is the easiest solution because the people in the central location have no bias for or against the call they just made, and it takes all the pressure off the on-location game officials and puts it squarely where it belongs: on the league office.

It’s become obvious in the high-stakes, and big money pressure situations that on-location game officials miss these calls when they count the most. Last night’s game in Cleveland was just the latest example, but imagine if supervisors in New York had the opportunity to review the call in Seattle that cost Green Bay on Monday Night Football last season? In both cases, it is almost a certainty the calls would have been reversed and the correct call would have been made.

Along with this, Major League Baseball needs to, through immediate cooperation with the umpires union, make available all disciplinary information on umpires on their game decisions. I honestly, don’t care if umpires goad players into arguments that result in ejections, but more important to me is how accurate their calls are at the plate and bags. Those calls have an effect on every play of every game. Along with making this information available, we need to start to see the transition from unqualified umpires to those who are better and rate higher. Age is no factor in this argument.

If you’re 65 and rate in the highest percentile then you get to keep your job. Make no mistake, some of the worst game managers and umpires are those that are newer and younger. Being a younger umpire doesn’t make you a good umpire.

The bottom line is, Angel Hernandez got last night’s play wrong, and it likely cost the Oakland Athletics the game last night, but as any official will say the most important thing to them is getting the play correct.

[tl;dr] Expanding Baseball’s Instant Replay and Limiting Extra Innings

Monday, while watching Nationals play the Braves I saw an interesting play that I hope will be reviewable when instant replay expands next year. No, I’m not a fan of instant replay for a number of reasons, but this is a situation in which most umpires would hopefully agree review is needed.

The Braves were batting in the bottom of the fourth with two outs and runners on first and second. Gerald Laird singles to center, Freddie Freeman scores from second, and Dan Uggla is thrown out by Denard Span while attempting to advance to third. Sounds like a typical scoring play, except in this case it isn’t.

The putout recorded by National’s third baseman Chad Tracy happens almost simultaneously while Freeman scores. Home plate umpire Laz Diaz is in position to see signal from third base umpire Mark Wegner and the tag at home by Tracy, but because of the timing probably gets the play wrong (advance to :47).

Normally, I wouldn’t touch on such a scenario, but at that point the Braves had just tied the game 2-2 and later went on to win 3-2.

Through no fault or lack of effort did the umpires get that play wrong, but did so because of the timing of the play.

These plays are exactly the types of plays instant replay can resolve correctly.

Also on Monday, the Angels and Athletics played 19 innings. The game ended almost seven hours after it started or somewhere near 5am on the east coast. In the regular season, this is unacceptable. Major League Baseball needs to come up with a limit for the number of extra innings. I propose three extra innings for a total of 12 before the game is declared a tie.

Teams shouldn’t be forced to essentially play and additional unplanned game in one day then be expected to play the next day and have quality pitching or hitting. Baseball isn’t nearly as phsycially taxing as football and hockey, so if the NFL and NHL can agree on ties, so can MLB. NBA, you need to look at this too.

Generally, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to baseball being against instant replay, the designated hitter, interleague play, and limiting the length of games, but the two changes listed above benefit both players and fans and should be implemented next season.

tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world.

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