Saturday, March 12, 2011

Daily Debate: Should Baseball implement more Instant Replay?

As our society advances further and further with technology, sports are feeling the effects that come with that. One way in which this is happening is with instant replay. In the last month of the 2008 season, our good friend Bud Selig implemented instant replay, which would only come into effect with home runs. Right now, the rules state that an umpire may review a home run to see if the home run was fair or foul, if it actually left the playing field, or if the ball was interfered with by a fan. That's it. Since the rule has been implemented, there has been controversy surrounding it. Some people want more instant replay, some want none at all. 

I can see why people would want to do away with instant replay. One of the biggest complaints that casual fans have about baseball is that it takes too long. Instant replay would only exacerbate that problem. However, if they are serious about shortening the game, they should start by talking to the pitchers who take an hour between pitches, (we're looking at you, Dice-K), they're the biggest reason games take too long. While I'm watching a game, I don't want a bad call to blow the game. Other people tell me that instant replay takes away from human error. My response, who gives a shit. Why do people rejoice over error. I understand that no human is perfect, but computers can be, so why not rely on them. I will never understand the logic that supports anything less than perfection.

So the real question becomes, what sort of instant replay should MLB implement. There are basically two schools of thought. One is to use a challenge system similar to the NFL's. With this, managers would have maybe two challenges a game, in which they decide to tell the ump to check the replay hoping to over turn the call. My one problem with this would be that managers would likely use this as a way to give his starter a little extra rest, or too give a guy in the bullpen some extra time to warm up. The rule could turn more into a way to work the pitching staff then to challenge a ruling. The other way would be to model it after the NHL, in which there is a member of the umpire staff at MLB headquarters that can be looking at every replay of every play and tell the Chief Crew when to challenge a call. The good thing about this set up would be that it could actually speed up the game in some cases. For example, if an outfielder clearly traps a ball, but the umpire called the hitter out, the pitcher may try and throw the next pitch as fast as possible so the ump can't overturn the call.

After choosing how replay would work, the league also would have to decide just what plays are reviewable. Obviously, home runs will be, since they already are. I believe that plays at the plate also must be reviewable. Any time a run is scored on a bad call, that has a huge outcome on the game. Next, a ball hit down the line should be reviewed to see if it is fair or foul. Often times, these hits down the line result in an extra base hit, which typically has an impact on the game. The one part of the game that should not be subject to replay would be balls and strikes. These calls are often too close to call, and there is no set strike zone that every ump uses. Each umpire has their own strike zone, and it's the batter and pitcher's job to adjust to what the ump is calling that day. So while there are more arguments over balls and strikes than anything else, that is the one call that I will say should be left up to the dreaded "human error." 

P.S. Knowing Bud, the only reviewable plays in the 2012 season will be balls and strikes. 

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