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Instant Replay? In Baseball?

In the midst of writing a chapter on steroid use for my book on baseball, I am interrupted by two simple messages…

CAM: what!? limited replay!?
CAM: wtff.

I had to remove the screen name because my friend had concerns (maybe a little exaggerated) that my readers are all psycho and creepy and would start IMing like crazy. But anyways, the concern for instant replays in MLB might be a little more profound. Anyways, let me know what you think on the decision for MLB to use instant replay in limited usages probably starting August 1st.

I would say that pretty much describes what the majority of fans are thinking right now. For me, I think in the experimental phases of the instant replay it should only be limited to home runs and nothing else. See how it affects the game and if makes it considerably longer to go and consult the use of instant replay. In a time where the commissioner wants to shorten the games by reducing the time a pitcher takes between pitches, this is certainly a step in the other direction. However, I think it is a necessary step that needs to be taken to ensure that the correct calls are made and no game is decided on an incorrect call.

This is probably better come playoff time where they expand the number of umpires in a game but they should not be afraid from using technology to call the game correctly. Yes I can understand the need to “human”-ize the game where everything is not just technologically dependent on scouts and video tapes, that there still needs to be that human element in the game. You cannot have instances like the NBA where a clock does not run and then the referees are barred under the rules to use the replay to make the correct decision. I am not saying that the umpires should now use the replay for every single pitch to determine whether it is a strike or ball, whether a runner is safe or out at first base on a bang bang play or even whether a shot down the line looked fair or foul. Those things are simple and usually close enough where the umpire should be able to make the call on his own or if consultation is needed, there are three other umpires with them on a given night. It is just on a call where the ball is leaving the park and it is not evident whether the ball cleared the foul pole on the fair or foul side which could certainly impact the outcome of the game. Yes other plays can have an impact like that as well and maybe you extend the limits to homeruns and “game ending plays” but August is still a long way away and I am sure the officials will hammer out the details in the next two months or so.

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2 Responses

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  1. Chris says

    I’m against the use of instant replay in any form. I think it separates baseball from every other sport in that truly human way. Just as a fielder can make an error on a play so can an ump and its part of the game and part of why we love the game. Nothing fires us up more than what we think is a blown call and nothing will sit us dead cold in our seats like an instant replay and a correction. I think it takes some passion away and it cheats us out of one of the very reasons why we love this game.

  2. Mike says

    I think replays, now that we have the technology, are requisite for any sport. There’s an inherent error in having human refereeing, just because it’s impossible for them to see everything every time. Having the replay as a backup in case they missed it is a good idea.

    That is, if it’s well-implemented. It’s a debate of whether interrupting the flow of the game (with the replay) or playing through obviously botched calls is worse. If they can eliminate the interruption for the most part, then it’s an obvious improvement.



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