Archive for instant replay

This One’s for Pacer521

Posted in 1, MLB with tags , , , , , , on August 29, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

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.


Let’s See That Again

Posted in MLB with tags , , , on June 11, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

You probably remember the scene well.  It was game two of the 2005 ALCS, 9th inning, two out and no one on with AJ Pierzynski at the plate.  He swung and missed at strike three.  Catcher Josh Paul caught the pitch with part of his glove in the dirt, and umpire Doug Eddings called Pierzynski out on strikes.  Naturally, the Angels players started to leave the field and Paul threw the ball towards the mound. 


Having been called out, Pierzynski started towards the dugout, but then suddenly he ran to first believing Paul had trapped the ball. The home plate umpire said the catcher had trapped the ball and therefore called Pierzynski safe at first.  A pinch runner, a stolen base, and an RBI double later, the Sox won the game and went on to win the series.



It was a close call, but everyone not named Pierzynski seems to believe now that the wrong call was made.  Paul argued that not only did he catch the ball cleanly, but that the umpire will yell “no catch” if the ball hits the dirt before the glove and no such call was made.


Granted, the loss only pulled the Sox even with the Angels so it wasn’t as if it were game seven. However, I believe it’s justifiable to say that it created a huge shift in the series. 


I seem to recall that there were several controversial calls in the playoffs that year, and it brought the question of using instant reply to the forefront for baseball.  While the owners had already voted in favor of exploring the options earlier this year, the debate fired up again with some blown home run calls just a few weeks ago. 


People are divided as to what the league should do.  Everyone wants the right call to be made, but many are worried it will negatively affect the game.  Bud Selig keeps saying that it’s the human element that makes baseball unique.  I always find that answer a bit strange because last I checked all of our major sports were played and regulated by humans. 


And if instant replay is incorporated, there’s the tricky question of how it should be done.


I agree you can’t use it on every controversial call, especially for balls and strikes.  The game would never end.  So the “any call” option just doesn’t seem viable. 


The most common solution heard is that it should be used for just home runs and fair or foul.  No, that won’t prevent what happened in the AJ Pierzynski incident, but it’s a good place to start. 


Naturally, it’s a complex issue and there are a lot of details that would need to be sorted out.  For example, how will the team call for a replay? Will the manager throw a bag of DAVID Sunflower Seeds on the field when he wants to challenge a call? And will the team be charged with another out if the call is upheld?


But just because it’s complicated doesn’t mean it should be abandoned.  A blown call is frustrating for a team and the fans at any point, and it’s never good to see a team win or lose because of a wrong call. 


To me, the integrity of the game requires using instant replay now.  The possibility of changing the outcome of a game due to a bad call should be unacceptable. Sure, a team can probably overcome that over the course of a season, depending on the importance of the loss.  But one horrible call in the playoffs can change the whole championship picture, and that only hurts the sport.


It’s become enough of an issue to where MLB has said they will start experimenting with the options, and as a fan I commend them for doing that. If incorporated correctly and appropriately, I believe the sport will be better for it.