|Point-Counterpoint - Should Major League Baseball have Instant Replay||| Print ||
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on June 14, 2008
What, really, is the impetus for Major League baseball to consider the switch to instant replay? Is it the botched call of Carlos Delgadoâ€™s home run at Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago? Or was it another should-have-been-a-home-run-but-was-called-a-foul-out call?Â
Whatever it was, it shouldnâ€™t matter. Umpires have made mistakes since the first time they have taken the field. Itâ€™s just part of the game, and an integral one at that. Baseball did well in going with interleague play and the wild card, but this is too drastic a shift.Â
If baseball chooses to accept instant replay for just home run calls, then it would be forced to walk down a slippery slope. What is too little? What is too much? Should we have just home run calls? What about bang-bang plays on the bases? What about borderline ball/strike calls? Should umpires be able to choose when to go to replay or do managers have challenges? How many? Do umpires grant every managerâ€™s request if they have unlimited replays or only when they are unsure of the situation? So many more questions can be asked.Â
Having even the slightest replay would slow the pace of the game down, something Major League baseball does not want to do. A manager will jog out and ask for an instant replay if the call is particularly close. Then the umpire must watch several camera angles and consult with the rest of his crew before deciding what should happen.Â
Some change is good for baseball. This would just be too huge of a leap.
Limited Replay Good for Baseball
Itâ€™s time for Major League baseball to join the 21st century and embrace instant replay on at least a minimal scale.Â No, I donâ€™t think the game should be bogged down by calls on balls and strikes, fair or foul, or even on that close call at second base.Â Baseball should use instant replay to make sure the call was right on home runs or potential home runs.Â
That was obvious when you saw all the blown home run calls in recent months.Â And a home run is the perfect play to use replay for.Â There is no human factor, no player is involved - just a ball and a fence.Â Itâ€™s not about the value of the umpire, or removing the judgment of a arbiter who is feet away from the play and has the best view of it, but about making the correct call on a play that is hard to see - hard enough at least that weâ€™ve seen many botched already this season.Â
No, the game wouldnâ€™t be the same without the men in black masks behind the plate, or standing in the vicinity of the bases, but theses calls arenâ€™t near the bases, they arenâ€™t even near the umpires standing on the line.Â No, these calls are made from hundreds of feet away.Â
And there arenâ€™t even runners or fielders whose actions would be compromised by reviewing the play.Â Either the ball clears the fence, itâ€™s a ground rule double, or the play stands as it did before the review.Â Â There would be no figuring out if a runner should have advanced an extra base or two, no deliberation about if it was an out, or that a tag was made, or even that a player had control over a ball.Â
Depriving a team of a home run via a bad call deprives them of runs scored - and undermines the heart of the athletic competition in which the better team should win.Â Human error is a part of the game, errors by pitchers, fielders, by runners, by hitters, and even by umpires happens within the flow of the game with defensive and offensive players on the move until the runners come to a halt for one reason or another.Â Â
But on a home run there are only four possible calls.Â Foul, fair, fan interference, or a ground rule double.Â Play isnâ€™t changed, isnâ€™t interrupted. All instant replay would do is make sure that play far from the umpire is called correctly. Isnâ€™t that what matters?