In yet another battle in the steep, uphill war for instant replay in Major League Baseball, it appears there has been but one more small victory. On Thursday, The Associated Press reported that MLB is “leaning toward” an expansion of instant replay that would include trapped balls and fair-or-foul rulings down the lines.
Count me among those disappointed. Not because I oppose instant replay––I strongly support it, in fact––but because I can not help but question MLB’s motives. If you want to get the calls right, and consequently incorporate more instant replay, why take these small steps?
We have the technology, we just don’t seem to have the dedication. That MLB is willing to take such insignificant steps is an indication that there really is no motivation to get the right call. It’s almost as though Bud Selig is acting out of obligation rather than his own passion.
And what’s most disappointing, beyond the lack of necessary action, is that this debate has been sheltered by a wave of ignorance, even by some pro-replay advocates.
Cardinals relief pitcher Ryan Franklin, in support of instant replay, said, “I just think they should all be called the right way, and it doesn’t matter if it takes an extra five minutes.”
Bravo, Mr. Franklin. Yes, of course we should strive to get every call right. But I must question the latter half of your statement. Where do you come up with the fact that instant replay adds time to baseball games?
What lengthens the games is not getting calls right, it’s getting calls wrong. Umpires converging on the field as players and managers offer their own two cents, sometimes without civility, is hardly a quick process. As if that weren’t enough, the call rarely gets changed anyway. That, if anything, is the real waste of time. And it’s pretty unproductive as well.
Replay, on the other hand, would speed up games and decrease the amount of arguments. With a call in question, the crew chief can simply signal up to an official sitting in the press box watching the television broadcast. “Safe or out?” the crew chief would ask. “Safe.” Done. Thirty seconds.
That I can sit home and watch multiple slow motion replays at five different angles on FOX while the umpires––with memory as their only evidence––argue ferociously with the opposing manager is absolutely ridiculous.
Another Major Leaguer, Aubrey Huff, decided to contribute his opinion as well. “You’re messing with the history of the game when you start messing with too much,” he said.
Dear Mr. Huff,
if the history of the game is principally based on less, if not inaccurate evidence, then that is a history I am sure pleased to “mess” with.
This debate always makes me think back to one of Mike Francesa’s radio broadcasts on WFAN. A caller argued that instant replay was essential and that we should strive to get every call right. Mike Francesa viciously countered, screaming, “You want robots?! You want a little beeper system running the game?!”
Nobodies asking for robots. Nobody is suggesting that we should dismantle tradition. But why, if not through logic then through a love for the game, would you ever not support a system that will get more calls right.
Maybe it’s not even about the answer anymore. Maybe we just haven’t yet asked the right question.