Expanded instant replay is off and running

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There was a little bit of history this afternoon, as MLB’s new expanded instant replay made its debut in a game between the Blue Jays and Twins.

We saw it in the bottom of the sixth inning after Twins outfielder Chris Rahl was called safe at first base when a throw from Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki pulled Jared Goedert off the bag. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged the call, which was eventually upheld. The whole process took an estimated two minutes and 34 seconds.

Check out the video below:

It should be said that this isn’t exactly how things will go during the season. In the Twins-Blue Jays game, there was a video truck outside the stadium with an umpire on duty to review calls. During the season, there will be a challenge umpire at the MLBAM office in New York.

Expanded instant replay was used again later in the very same game, but this time it was initiated by the umpires, which is allowed after the seventh inning under the new system. The original call, that Twins pinch-hitter Doug Bernier beat out a grounder for an infield hit, was also upheld. We also saw replay used this afternoon in a Cactus League game between the Angels and Diamondbacks. Angels manager Mike Scioscia challenged a call after Luis Jimenez was called out at second base after a botched hit-and-run play. However, the umpire’s original call was also confirmed. Paul Hagan of MLB.com reports that the wait was around two minutes and 31 seconds.

So far, so good.

Mariano Rivera elected to Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously

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Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).

Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.

Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.

Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.