Yesterday, Pacer521 requested that we do an updated post on MLB using instant replay. You ask; we deliver. Now don’t let that go to your heads because we can only do so much. So if one of you writes in requesting an article on the change in jockstrap technology over the years don’t hold your breath waiting for that post.
Today, MLB will be implementing the new instant replay system, something many people probably thought would never happen. But with a couple of incorrect calls made in critical spots in the last couple of years, the owners and players support gradually increased to the point of approving the measure.
There are three arguments I’ve heard against the use of the system.
The first, is that it takes away from the human element of the game. As I mentioned in a previous post a couple of months back, I just don’t get that argument. It’s not like we’re trotting cyborgs out on the field now. The umpires will still make the calls, and in the limited instances where a replay is needed then they will check the video. They are in no way being eliminated or phased out of the game. To me, taking a step to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the game does not diminish the human element. After all, the fans and players are human (for the most part), and we want the right call to be made.
The second argument is that while right now an umpire is only allowed to review a home run call, it’s just starting a trend that would eventually open the door to reviewing fair/foul, safe/out calls. I won’t get in to the debate of whether that would be appropriate or not, but I’ll simply say that I understand the argument on both sides. However, I think it’s a moot point because MLB has made assurances that instant replay use will go no further than home run use.
The third argument is that it will slow down the game. People tend to constantly joke about the slow pace of a baseball game, and I’ve never understood that. Most games usually end before the 3 hour mark, which is no different than football. Granted, football is a more explosive sport and the action is much faster paced. But there is still plenty of down time during a football game. In fact, after the Boise St/Oklahoma bowl game a couple of years back, I downloaded the “fast cut” version of the game from iTunes. It included every play and every referee call, and it added up to only 30 minutes. So this talk of baseball taking longer is ridiculous. Of course it’s a little slower paced and there are those games that go on for 4 or 5 hours. But as a whole I don’t think the the length of the game is an issue. The game is what it is.
But back to the argument, with the replay being limited to home run calls, I find it hard to believe this will significantly impact games. It’s not common for the umpires to be faced with a home run call that requires a replay. The tough calls that come up from time to time have made replay necessary, but you don’t see them every day. And in the games where checking the replay is necessary, it shouldn’t take the umpire more than a couple of minutes to check the tape. That’s not much, and as I read in a related article, Lou Piniella causes longer delays with his arguments than instant replay would.
Considering all those things, I think this is good for the game. The league has taken a significant but measured approach to limiting the amount of incorrect calls. The umpires do a great job, but it’s important to equip them with the tools to make a correct call whenever it’s in doubt. And as we’ve seen in recent playoff series, one wrong call can change the whole postseason. This is a necessary step, and I applaud the league for taking it.
Maybe they’ll name the review station after Jeffrey Mayer.