Monday, May 19, 2008

The Simple Case for Instant Replay In Baseball

Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Yankees-Mets game down at Yankee Stadium. The Mets cruised to an 11-2 victory, with Awful Oliver Perez holding the Yankees to 3 hits and 2 runs over 7&2/3 innings. The margin of victory put to rest some of the controversy that would have followed, seeing as a 3-run Carlos Delgado homer in the 4th was incorrectly ruled a foul ball by home plate umpire Bob Davidson.

From our vantage point in the upper, upper, upper left field bleachers, we couldn't see the ball as it drifted out of sight below us. And maybe that's sort of the point on these home run balls- it's pretty damn hard to see a baseball when it's so far away and moving so quickly. Unlike the other major sports, baseball tends to look at change with a wary eye, and instant replay has always been a particular sore point. The perhaps not unwarranted fear is that the electronic will replace the personal and umpires will be replaced with robots, computers and sensors.

But there should be a role for instant replay in baseball and that role is simple. To resolve these questions that arise over foul versus fair balls and other disputes that take place far away from where any of the umpires are actually standing. We don't need instant replay for balls and strikes- We don't need it for base running calls. What it would be useful for is the rare situation where you can't tell where exactly the ball was flying or even where exactly it landed. It would be simple, it wouldn't be very time consuming, and most importantly it would be limited. So why not? I'd be especially curious to hear from anyone who thinks it would be a bad idea.

7 Comments:

Anonymous b.rose said...

Instant replay would take the human element out of baseball. Umpires blowing calls that change the outcome of games is special. Human error is what makes baseball special. It's as much a part of the game as anything. Really, we as fans watch baseball to see the umpires as much as the players. They know that, which is why they never miss a good opportunity to get attention.





Please. The yankees are paying their roster $1.25m per game pretty much. Between the Mets and yankees combined there is well over $2m being earned by the 50 players combined per game. There are 50K in the seats who paid an average of 50 bucks per ticket. With all that is invested in these games I think it's time they stop pretending its 1920 and put a replay process in place.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080519/ap_on_el_pr/obama_byrd_2;_ylt=AngTS7ECr9XnaNX7R9arZKhh24cA

Senator Byrd, a former member of the KKK, who opposed integrating the military, and filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act is endorsing Obama.

If Obama had any balls he'd tell the guy to go fuck himself and that he didn't want an endorsement from some old clown who wants to pretend he can erase his past by endorsing some half black hawaiin. You opposed integrating the military and filibustered civil rights? unforgivable.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous b.rose said...

And Byrd is the guy who went absolutely APESHIT (BARBARIC!!! )over the Mike Vick stuff. I love dogs, but a guy who opposed equal rights for blacks feels this strongly about dogs rights? You sir are an idiot.

2:31 PM  
Blogger McMc said...

The thing that bothered me most about that Delgado play was that the third base ump was 100 feet away and made the homerun call but was somehow talked into overturning it by the homeplate ump who was 300 feet away. How does that even make sense?

I totally agree that instant replay probably should be used for questionable homerun calls, but that's it. However, you can't discredit the human element of the game. I don't know what you were driving at brose with an instant replay system, but I sure as hell don't want umpires reviewing every close pay or tag. Not only would it delay the game but it's just not worth it. Truth is, major league umps do a pretty damn good job. Sure there's an occasional controversy on the basepath, but instant replay wouldn't change that. Look at the NFL. How many times do we see countless replays and still feel shocked by what the refs concluded? With baseball, a lot of the time your first instinct will be right.

Yes it sucks thinking a runner was safe when he was called out, but the only thing that would suck worse than that was seeing a runner called safe, thinking the same thing upon watching replay, and then having the ump call him out.

3:47 AM  
Anonymous b.rose said...

I was mocking those who talk about human error on the part of umpires as if it was desirable, or added some sort of mystique to the game.

9:23 AM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

200 feet away, 300 feet away, it's a pretty long distance to see a little ball.

The thing is, there really is no "human element" to that sort of call, it's just a matter of whether you could actually see what happened from your vantage point or whether you couldn't see what happened. I'm sure some of the times that they get those calls right, it's just pure luck.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous b.rose said...

There's a serious disconnect here. look at how much time fans spend talking about sports in person, on blogs etc, listening to sports talk radio...how much time we all waste doing things other than watching the game, because we like sports.

Yet we don't want to take a couple minutes to see if a guy caught a ball in shallow center, or to see if chuck knoblauch tagged jose offerman? this makes no sense. it's the cool thing to act like any hiccup in the flow of the game ruins the experience. bad, game altering calls ruin the experience. not to say umps aren't good, but we have technology and we should use it.

but i shouldn't expect anything aside from blind acceptance of traditions from baseball or its fans. after all, this is the sport where celebrating a home run neccessitates a pegging. trying to tack on some insurance runs, runs the risk of offending the other team and starting a beanball war. the most storied franchise in the league doesn't allow facial hair. players are given credit for running hard for 90 feet. small ball is still accepted as a useful way to play offense despite significant statistical evidence that it's an inferior offensive strategy. umpires unbelievably are allowed to engage players and managers in arguments, when it happens in no other sport. tim mccarver is the most prominent color man in the sport.

there's some stretches in there for examples of baseball's blind acceptance of "time honored traditions", but baseball's culture is certainly based more on what is accepted as norms rather than logic. lack of replay is certainly an example of that. is it gonna take a playoff spot, playoff series, or championship decided by a bad call for them to institute replay?

11:56 AM  
Blogger McMc said...

Instant replay is nice, but I would really have a problem if it was used in all aspects of baseball. Homerun calls are one thing, because they are farther away and there's just a lot of background images and what not to distract the ump. But there is just no way replay could work to argue basepath calls. First off, replay works in the NFL because of the challenge system. Timeouts are valuable, but expendable at times, so you have to decide it's worth the risk. But with baseball, you either have to review every close play or none. You can't challenge a play and lose an out or something stupid like that. Secondly, as I said before, would replay really make that much of a difference? How often do you watch a game with someone and see a close play yet you both say something different? Do we really want umps second guessing themselves all the time? Do we really want to see umps call everyone safe just to be safe and check replay every time? In my opinion, this could lead to a lot more arguments and ejections when plays are overturned. Football needs replay because things happen too fast to see with the naked eye. But baseball umps get it right a vast majority of the time, and I don't think you need replay to mess things up. Sure there will be bad calls from time to time, but replay will also lead to bad calls and overturns, so why bother?

1:58 PM  

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