Saturday, November 03, 2007
When The General Managers for each and every Major League Baseball Team show up in Orlando, Florida on Monday for their Annual General Managers Meetings--more than the swapping of players, and deals to be made, will be on their minds. For the very first time, Commissioner Bud Selig has stated he will listen, seriously, to each and every GM--and give them a determining vote in whether MLB will accept Television Instant Replay during the upcoming Major League Baseball Season--for every single game. Throughout the over 145 Years of Professional Baseball, the overturning of any umpire's decision, by anyone, for any reason--has been nothing short of blasphemy. The Men In Blue have always been given THE FINAL SAY. The Arbiters of Baseball hold the keys to their very own decisions. No appeal can ever be overturned by ANYONE ELSE. Any Umpiring Crew is their very own Supreme Court. Only their group of four can make a ruling. Only that crew--can overrule themselves.
For a very long time--I have held those beliefs close to my chest, also. Besides, any intense confrontation between Umpire, Manager or even Player--can sometimes be The Highlight of any Ballgame. Growing up, the sight of The Baltimore Orioles Manager Early Weaver taking it out on ANY UMPIRE--a sight to behold. Earl understood the theatrics. Weaver knew he most likely would not win--but at least he could turn ANY CROWD to his favor. What a performer that man was--absolutely TERRIFIC!!
History has proven though, far more times than not--that Instant Replay affirms Major League Umpires are pretty good at their jobs. No doubt--most all of them--professional and talented. Yet now and despite that fact, I am ready for change. Because still--there have been too many good examples of Major League Games, both during the Regular Season, the Playoffs, and World Series--where an Umpire's incorrect call has changed the outcome decisively. And, this has nothing to do with balls and strikes--as there is NO WAY--that determination should be given to any video replay official. Sometimes, you just have to respect the insta-second call by The Home Plate Umpire on any pitch.
But, calls in the field, catches or not, foul or fair, safe or out--running inside or outside the baseline--whether or not that phantom tag at second base was too leisurely. Those are situations that should be considered under a new Instant Replay Rule. Like in football--there would have to be some rules to govern the use. As, if any Manager could protest every call--the now 3 Hour Game--would easily reach 4, and possibly 5 hours long. No one--would want to see that.
Instant Replay is a KEY ISSUE. A Technology well adapted in not only The National Football League, but also The National Basketball Association and The National Hockey League. All using video under their own guidelines and circumstances. That's fine with me. And now is the time for Major League Baseball to move ahead with Instant Replay of their own, on Controversial or Unsure Calls on the Baseball Diamond. At the end the day--EVERYONE can accept the right call. No one can accept going home feeling cheated by the wrong call--if that feeling could have been avoided, simply, by a video replay.
We live in the 21st Century of ever evolving Digital Technology. Useful devices are at hand each and every day for EVERYONE. It's time for The Owners of Major League and The Commissioner of Baseball to get their heads out of sand--and moving forward. Quit trying to protect the All Mighty Position Of Umpires--these Baseball Arbiters are human too. They make mistakes too--just like you and me. They shouldn't be embarrassed, if any of their calls are overturned.
The Time, The Technology and The Temperature are all ripe for change. Come the end of next week, when The General Manager's Meetings conclude--Major League Baseball should be moving forward with the implementing of Instant Replay in Professional Baseball.
Nothing short of that decision--will be considered progress.
Of course--Umpire Baiting might take a little more of a backseat to the game with Instant Replay. That aspect, I would probably miss--just a little bit--as everyone loves a good fight.
But, Everyone wants to see the Correct Call--Too (Ryan Zimmerman was called OUT at the plate on this play against The Phillies on August 29th, 2006--a momentum changer in an eventual 5-1 loss to Philadelphia).
Zimmerman leaping photo--courtesy of Mary Wolverton (Mrs. Micknats) And, one of my favorite Nats Photos since Baseball Returned to Washington.