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MLB Approves Expanded Replay - Jorge Orta Was Still Safe

MLB has approved expanded instant replay. Thank heavens they didn't make it retroactive to 1985.

Marc Serota

Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved expanded replay yesterday, to go in effect for the 2014 season. Each manager will begin a game with one challenge and can win a second challenge if they are successful on their first challenge. Umpires can initiate challenges after the seventh inning if the managers are out of challenges.

The one big improvement from the NFL-model of replay is that MLB will use their central office in New York as the arbiter of instant replay decisions. We should hopefully avoid the train-wreck stoppage of play the NFL experiences as a lead official lumbers to a replay booth on the sideline, takes five minutes to figure out how to cue up the replay, then another five minutes to determine the call.

Balls and strikes will not be reviewable, nor will "phantom tags" or "the neighborhood play" at second base where the second baseman fails to touch second while turning a double play to avoid contact with the incoming base runner. But reviews will be available for home runs (as they were last year), fair/foul calls, baserunner tags, and out/safe calls on bases.

But what if they had instant replay in 1985?

Bill Plaschke, as well as numerous Cardinals fans, assume that with replay, Jorge Orta is ruled "out" in the ninth inning of Game 6, and the Cardinals go on to win the championship. That assumes, of course, that Todd Worrell is able to get the remaining two outs without the Royals plating a run, still a big assumption. Remember that Steve Balboni followed Orta with a single. Jim Sundburg was forced out on a bunt. Hal McRae was intentionally walked. And the infamous Dane Iorg followed it all up with a single. So Worrell did not retire a single hitter that was trying to avoid an out. Would things have played out differently had he perhaps not been rattled by Denkinger's call? Perhaps. But let's not assume an alternate universe championship for the Cardinals just yet.

Still, I'm glad they didn't have replay back then.