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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Replay coming to MLB?

One problem that is about to blow up in Major League Baseball that you won't see as an issue in the Golden Baseball League: the use of instant replay. And the first dominos have already fallen. Here comes the rest...

With one round of the 2009 MLB playoffs in the books, baseball's instant replay debate is once again being, um, replayed -- this time with new evidence a la the League Division Series. With bungled calls in several series, most notably the fair ball called foul in the Yankees-Twins ALDS, look out as critics will begin the cries for more use of replay technology while purists defend the use of umpires who "get it right more often than not."

A year ago I said that implementing instant replay for home runs would lead Major League Baseball down the slippery slope of letting instant replay decide most of if not all of a very objective game. Because of the baseball's objective nature compared to particular calls in football or basketball (calling holding or block fouls is much more subjective than safe or out), it's much easier to instant replay to overtake the game, which I must say may not be the worst thing.

"I realize a home run is more important than a regular old play because it means point are either on or off the scoreboard. But where does it stop?

Home runs are okay to replay. But not a play at the plate, which might be more difficult to call despite an umpires close proximity to the play. I don't like the concept of limited instant replay. That's how things started in the NFL, and the league seems to expand replay every year to include more and more rules that were either overlooked or deemed not important enough when the NFL originally added replay.


If MLB is going to use instant replay, they shouldn't decide to do it just for HRs. Might as well implement it everywhere and get the whole thing over with.

That's what I wrote over a year ago, and now it's time for us all to get ready as baseball could very realistically be adding new elements to it's replay abilities by as soon as next season. I don't think this will get as advanced as the NFL where managers are throwing challenge flags and instead of losing timeouts, the teams have to make extra outs or something.

But what if the MLB used tennis's Hawk-Eye replay system (in use since 2006) to rule fair and foul balls in relation to where they bounce down the foul lines. It takes tennis less than 10 seconds, and it's accuracy is virtually unsurpassable. That could easily be implemented, and calls like the one from the Yankees-Twins series would not longer be in doubt.

Let's get an official in the booth who can quickly assess if the ball beats the runner to the bag on routine force outs. Or perhaps make it extremely centralized a la the NHL, and have the MLB headquarters directly review any plays in question. After all, while a home run directly reflects points on the scoreboard and thus clearly can affect a final score, what about a runner called out at first base who might have come around to score after subsequent hits later in the inning?

Don't argue about the sanctity of the game being ruined by the addition of technology. The "sanctity" of the game is in doubt so long as umpires are blowing these calls. Replay doesn't worsen the game's reputation.

The flood gates are open with home runs, so it's only a matter of time before everything else flows through.


Joe Caca said...

Call me a traditionalist, but instant replay in baseball as it is today is okay. To have replay in baseball for all controvercial calls would take away the human element of the game. Not only that, but the game is long enough without having to stop and review all close calls. I remember watching a ballgame last year on TV where the umpires took over 18 minutes to review a call. After looking at the replay twice, anyone could come up with the correct call. That call should have taken less than 3 minutes to review if that long. My point is that baseball has been around for over 100 years without replay , and yes many a game have been results of bad calls by the umpires. That's what makes baseball so unique. It still maintains that human element of error by the umpires and gives us diehard fans something to talk and argue about. I'm all for getting the calls correct, but when it takes away something from the purety of the game itself, I must vote against it. Just like I've always was invented to be played outdoors on natural grass not in a domed stadium on carpet. I love seeing outfielders trying to catch a routine pop up caught up in a whirling wind. (Candlestick Park)
The fog at Blair Field. I'm sure you get the point.
In closing, baseball as a whole should be left as is. It is the only game which the playing fields are not uniform. Every field's dementions are different. Not so in basketball, football, soccor, hockey.

Marty M. "The Ush" said...

Amen Joe, Amen!!!! I totaly agree with you my man. Leave baseball the way it is. It gives you and I something to argue about at the yard. Take care buddy.


Josh said...

@Marty M.

Oh Marty, don't say both "Go Dodgers" & "Go Angels" ... that's not right! I don't know of too many Cubs/White Sox fans or Yankees/Mets fans. This must be just an LA baseball thing. For my own peace of mind, what is the reasoning for supporting both teams?!

Anonymous said...

For me it's very easy to be a fan of both. I'm in my 50's, grew up in Long Beach, which just about in the middle of the two. The fact they're in AL/NL helps too. The first game I ever went to was an Angels game in 1962 at "Dodger Stadium". Have been to hundreds of games of both & a die hard fan of both. Go Dodgers - Go Angels

M miera said...

If Anonymous gets my reasoning, why can't you? I will ALWAYS be a diehard Dodger fan, but I am also a fan of good baseball.
Honestly, ask any Dodger or Angel fan and see how mahy of them would love to see a Dodger/Angel world series. You would be surprised.
How many people in Chicago would want a Cubs/Whitesox world series?

Yeah, exactly. enough said.

Josh said...

Oh I get that people would want to see a Dodgers/Angels series. That makes sense. But I would assume it would be because the fans of each team would want to assert their dominance and obtain eternal bragging rights that would come with a head-to-head World Series. That's fine. I just don't like waffling fans who just root for both because now they're both doing well (like people who cheer for USC football and UCLA basketball).

M Miera said...

Now you got it. I must agree with you about the "bandwagon" fans who root for USC in football and UCLA in basketball. That one I don't get. If that were the case with me, then might as well become a Yankee fan since they have won more World Series in MLB history. That would never happen in my lifetime. That is like asking me to root for the OC "Cryers" in the league championships 2 years ago against the Calgary Vipers. That would never happen either.