Just Say No to Instant Replay for Major League Baseball

| by Sliding Into Home

(Greg's Note: This will most likely be the last post on the topic (at least until MLB does something about it) but since there were already a couple pro replay posts I figured it would be good to put up this one from JGavriel that shows a different opinion.)

Go ahead and GOOGLE "Blown MLB Calls" and you are going to get around 5,450,000 results. The first half of those may be related to Jim Joyce's blown call last night. This is going to be bad for baseball.

The uproar over the use of instant replay in baseball is coming and this time it is going to be more persistent than ever. This is going to be the story for the next few weeks. But isn't this all going to be just a huge overreaction to one of the biggest blown calls in history. The game itself was meaningless, but the pitching performance historic. Everyone needs to take a step back, breathe and realize instant replay is the last thing that baseball needs.

With today's technology we have the ability to see and review just about every single play in any game we would like. Any disputed call in any game is always reviewed by the broadcasters and we know if it was a blown call or not. However instituting instant replay would slow the game down significantly just look at the process we already have for home runs reviews. First the manager needs to come out and argue, then the umpires usually get together, next they have to go into their little cave and decide if the call was right or wrong. Sometimes the play is fairly easy to see and other times it is not. The whole process takes at minimum 5 minutes. This does a few things to the game: It slows it down (of course), whatever the call is the momentum boost for either team is not the same, the fans are less active in cheering potential rallies. Sure maybe you probably got the call right, but you get it right most of the time anyway.

Now we get to the issue of where will it stop. If you institute instant replay for calls at the bases. How many times can you challenge a play? Unlimited? Once per inning? Three times a game? Once a game? What if Jim Leyland had already used a replay challenge last night before that call? The game would have been blown anyway. Do you expand replay to determine if balls were fair or foul? If the pitch was a strike or a ball? We have the technology to do all these things, and any of them could blow a perfect game on the last play?

While most replays show a definitive answer to if the call was made correctly. Often there are plays that broadcasts show multiple times from multiple angles and in super slow motion and you can still debate the call in either direction. In those situations the replay would take an extremely long amount of time. What would be the rule. Do we need indisputable evidence to overturn a call? Well many calls aren't blown badly enough to have indisputable evidence.

It's understandable that there is going to be an uproar over this call. The call was clearly blown, and it changes baseball history. But isn't the human element what baseball is all about? Go back to your days playing backyard baseball as a kid. With makeshift fields, and sometimes "invisible runners" if you didn't have enough people. When a call was close the "tie went to the runner" strikes and balls and close catches or short hops were argued about endlessly, and that is what made it fun. The same goes for major league baseball. Sure calls are missed, and normally not as big as this one and many times teams have time to overcome them so they do not affect the game. However when it does, and the play is so close that replays cannot be 100% conclusive to we really want to know? It gives us something to talk about and debate, it makes for great talk around the cooler in the office next day. This is why we watch sports, to talk about incredible athletic performances, root for athletes who do things we wish we could do, and have issues and blown calls to argue about and discuss just like we are little kids.

Sure we could probably get 99% of all calls called correctly, but do we really want that to happen? The game slows down. Momentum is killed. Nothing to argue or debate besides stupid managerial moves. Think about it some legendary plays are disputed calls. I feel bad for Galarraga no doubt, but the technology we have everyone will remember his performance anyway. It will not be forgotten.

Was Jacky Robinson safe or out in the 1955 world series? A historic play, a disputed call. A debate enjoyed by all until this very day and into the future.

JoeNYy has some pretty good ideas about a way to institute instant replay into the game, but it is still flawed, and if it is going to be flawed anyway what is the point of slowing the game down. I will give a point by point response.

1a) Having an extra umpire at each game would be very costly to MLB.

1b) Although some blown calls are completely obvious others are not so and are not definitive. In that case the game will slow down a considerable amount. It already takes about 5 minutes for home run calls. A close play would take forever.

2) Nothing to dispute here

3A) What if the umpires are particularly bad one game and 2 replays are used before the 9th inning. What if the last out in the 8th inning on a blown call loses a perfect game and a manager is out of challenges.

3B) What is to stop a manager from using a challenge on a obvious correct call late in the game to give a pitcher a breather or a reliever extra time to warm up in the bullpen.

4A) You are now slowing the game down even more, the manager will come out and argue as usual, the umpires will confer to see if replay is necessary.

4B) What if another umpire confers a wrong call and they decide not to review the play. A new controversy develops.

In general you are creating two new general problems. With the amount of replays available you are slowing the game done considerably. The second problem is you still cannot ensure every call is mad correctly. Where does replay stop? What if Galarraga had lost the perfect game on a pitch called a ball that was clearly a strike? Balls and strikes are just as clear cut as out and safe? Why not get rid of umpires all together? Everyone wishes we had replay when an umpire blows a big call, but the fact is most calls aren't that clear cut and you will still not be getting 100% of the call correct. So what is the point in slowing down the game? Until there is a system that will get 100% of the calls correct and in a timely fashion then no changes should be made.

Say No to Instant Replay.