INSTANT REPLAY AND PHANTOM DOUBLE PLAYS. In this post from August, I speculated that when baseball adopts instant replay, it will change the “neighborhood play” on double plays at second base. This article by Jeff Passan features a video of what Passan calls an “egregious” neighborhood play from the American League Championship Series. Passan compares the second baseman’s distance from second base to the distance from Detroit to Los Angeles. If the rules are not changed, instant replay would presumably enforce the rules as written so that the second baseman would have to touch second base, increasing the risk of dangerous collisions.
Passan says that members of the replay committee have spent “dozens of hours locked in a room arguing” about the rule. He then points out something I hadn’t known: The colleges have had a rule all along (the “Force-Play-Slide-Rule”) which requires the base runner to slide directly into the base (and not to one side or the other). The NCAA rules say that the purpose of the rule is “to ensure the safety of all players”. Adopting the NCAA rule would make it safe for the umpires to require the infielder to touch second on the double play—yet another way instant replay would improve the game.