Saturday, November 03, 2007

Instant Replay

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.


Anonymous said...

You've made some head scratchers on this blog SBF, but trying to reason that instant replay would be good for baseball-for BASEBALL- tops them all. Ugh.

Tom said...

If we can have the DH in one league we can have instant replay in baseball.

Old Nats Guy said...

I don't think instant replay is the answer. You're right. A 3-hour game could turn into a 4 1/2 to 5-hour game. However, I think the solution is for the supervisor(s) of umpires to be more dilligent in supervising their umpires.
If I supervised umpires, such things as the phantom tag, the pitch that only one person (the home plate umpire) in 30,000 people can't see was below the knees, the neighborhood play, the blown checked swing call, etc. would be banished. All pitches that a catcher "frames" would be called a ball. Umpires would be asked to set up directly behind home plate, rather than behind the inside corner of the batter's box. (How can you call the pitch on the outside corner from over there?) Any umpire who takes off his mask and follows a player toward the dugout would be suspended. The fans pay to see the players, not the umpires. (And while I'm at it, I would ban Tim McCarver from analyzing video replays. He seems to complain about an umpire's call being wrong, but after 6 replays, says something like, "See? He did get the call right.")
It appears to me that most of the major arguments are merely the final straw in the eyes of a manager, coach or player. There was usually something earlier in the game that kicked off this display of anger.
I would suggest that the supervisor keep track of the arguments, look at the tape of what led up to the arguments and grade the umpire(s) on the efficiency of their calls. If one umpire (let me just pull the name Laz Diaz out of the hat) is consistently involved in disputes, blows ball and strike calls, or consistently calls base runners out after a successful steal attempt, then he should be replaced by someone who can get the call right.
It seems that most umpires are reluctant to overturn a bad call made by one of their brothers in blue. Only after that umpire asks for help do they huddle and come up with the correct call.
If I screwed up as badly as some of those guys, I wouldn't be employed for too long. Some of the umpires seem to think that they're incapable of making a mistake. They are being paid to make the correct call. They're not weather forecasters, they're umpires, and they should be held to a higher standard.

davidson said...

100% agree with Old Nats Guy. Instant replay is not the answer and I don't think it belongs in baseball.

It works for football because one play in one game can really make or break a season. In baseball, one bad call might lose you that one game, but you still have 161 other opportunities. Preserve the game the way it is.

SenatorNat said...

Instant Replay only for fair or foul or home-run or not (over the fence or line of demarcation) called for by one or more of the umpires - overturn or confirm based on essentially a race-track styled camera angle for foul lines and along the home run lines between the foul lines. Anything more than that enters areas which are often hidden from objective view; and where there may not actually be any good camera angles: unlike NFL and NBA, camera coverage of most MLB games not very elaborate.

Trust in Matthew Brady. All Good.

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced you have lost your mind! How long will the games be? Have you ever watched an NFL game and seen how many incorrect calls are NOT overturned.

I admit that replays of home runs has some merit to it. Tags at second, you've got to be kidding!

Umpires are human, just like the players. Players don't get do-overs, neither should the umps. It all evens out over 162 games anyway, doesn't it? Right?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Its nice to know that some believe I have lost my mind. That's funny, and appreciated too. But, at the same time, Old Nats Guy makes some very nice points that I agree with also. No. Its not a perfect situation today, but there is a better way--that in the long run that can be worked out which benefits the game. That's the point.

Tom said...

Instant replay could be used on fair or foul, catch or no catch or homeruns in or out calls. No judgement calls. For all you hard core old timers you'll still get all the good arguments.

Robert said...

I absolutely disagree with you. First of all, practically every decision by an umpire is one of fact: did he or didn't he touch home plate? Was he tagged? Is the ball foul? In football, by contrast, many calls are calls of opinion. Was that holding? Was that grounding? Instant replay in football still allows room for the refs--the vaunted "human element." But in baseball, the introduction of instant replay will soon eliminate the need for umpires altogether. It will be just one step more in order to eliminate the calling of balls and strikes. I can't imagine anything worse. It would make artificial grass seem almost quaint.

Robert said...

And another thing!

"We live in the 21st Century of ever evolving Digital Technology."

Yes we do, and that's exactly why I love baseball. It takes me out of the 21st Century every now and then. Please Bud Selig, keep electronic eyes out of our church, the ball park!