Expand Instant Replay in Baseball Now!

Before History Repeats Itself

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on May 6th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

It was Game six of the World Series. The year was 1985. Die-hard baseball fans already know what I am talking about. Arguably the worst call in sports history. In the ninth inning first base umpire Don Denkinger called Jorge Orta safe when he was out by a step and a half. The Kansas City Royals came back to win the game and the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals.

How some form of instant replay was not instituted the next season is mind-boggling. In 2008 baseball finally relented and allowed for limited replay to review home runs, fan interference and whether a ball is fair or foul. Under the current system,Denkinger’s call would still not be overturned.Because of another obvious bad call at first base that occurred during the no-hitter pitched by Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins on May 3rd, the topic of expanding replay in baseball came up this week on the ESPN show, Rome is Burning. Host Jim Rome said “Why make a sport that already moves too slow and is boring more slow and more boring”. His vote is to keep the system the same. Many of his peers feel the same way. It is a shortsighted point of view that ignores history.

Believe me, not if, but when Denkinger’s call repeats itself in a playoff situation, given the exponential growth of the media since 1985, it will be open season on MLB Commissioner Bud Selig by Rome et al for not already having expanded replay in the first place. I can already hear it, “Now you have to expand replay… at least for the playoffs”. I’m here to implore you, don’t wait for that event to happen, expand replay now! For the entire season!

Why we are reactive instead proactive for what seems to be an obvious and inevitable change is a subject for another day. But Rome has a point. Replay can be too slow, but it doesn’t have to be.

One concern with replay over the years has been “the feelings” of the officials and taking the calls out of their hands. Boo hoo, this is so ludicrous that it is a waste of space for me to have to comment on it. Referees, umpires, officials are not there to be part of the game, or to affect the game’s outcome. We do not pay to see or watch them. Their purpose is to insure the rules are being followed and the right calls are made. If there is a better way to do it, it should be done. With respect to their hard work, officials should not be part of the story.

Speaking of feelings and being part of the story, umpire Jim Joyce was emotionally broken up last year after he blew a call that cost Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers a perfect game.

Denkinger has had to live with his call for years. They don’t deserve that burden when it is so easily correctable. Not surprisingly, after the Joyce incident Denkinger came out in support of more replay. Listen to him and don’t boo Joyce or other umpires for honest mistakes, boo baseball for not having replay.

So, to speed replay up, let’s not waste time having umpires walk off the field to do the review to avoid possibly being overturned by someone else. Let’s go right to a replay booth with a nice 72 inch HD TV and get the call corrected faster. Most corrections can be made in well under a minute. You give each team three challenges a game, they get an extra one every time they are right or for extra innings.

You can offset the potential effect it has on the game’s time by making it an instant ejection plus one game suspension to argue a call. Further, presumably some of the corrected calls are going to be out calls, which will end innings sooner and speed up some games. Even if it extends a game by a few minutes isn’t it worth it to get the calls right?

The replay systems we have throughout the sports world seem to be working out pretty well. It is not as if replay has been used and made a sport worse. Or where you have fans demanding to take replay out of the game. If anything we want more! Further, it would be pretty simple to expand it in on a trial basis and remove it in the unlikely event it didn’t work.

And if you’re still not convinced, get a copy of that 1985 game six world series and watch that call over and over again for an hour and then imagine that call in that situation being made against your favorite team and then tell me what we should do.


Coming up shortly is my article about why technology should be used to call balls and strikes

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

One thought on “Expand Instant Replay in Baseball Now!

  1. Pingback: Message to Major League Baseball: Let Computers Call Balls and Strikes! | SECOND TAKE

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