Some of you may have noticed, or even participated in, the current poll here (Should Instant Replay be used in Baseball?). What are your thoughts, readers?
Personally, I think that the writing is on the wall – it’s coming. Last November the General Managers voted for it and this spring they’ve been testing it out in some of the lower leagues (rookie leagues I believe). I think it’s only a matter of time for it to be approved by the various unions and associations and it’ll be upon us.
Damn. I just don’t like it.
Baseball is a lot of things: strategic; nuanced; a thinking man’s game; etc. But it’s also human. From the misjudged fly ball to the booted grounder to the errant throw, human error abound. A perfectly played game is just a pitch away from going awry, and it isn’t limited to the players – the almighty umpires are just as susceptible to mistake as the players. It’s a game where failure is the norm (if a batter failes 7 out of 10 times, he’s a star), you just suck it up and play. Bad call? Deal with it and move on, that’s why there are 162 games in a season – the best teams will still rise to the top. Real baseball fans know this, just as they know that arguments with umpires are more about firing up the team and disrupting momentum than genuinely trying to persuade Blue.
With instant replay involved, all of these dynamics go out the window and we’re left with a sport where whining can actually be rewarded. Nice thought huh? That sounds like just as good of an idea as making sure all of the 6 year olds in little league bat, number of Outs be damned. I’ll puke at the first flag thrown onto the field for a replay.
So, where does this leave us? I think the best we can hope for is that its use is severely limited. So limited, in fact, that everyone forgets it is there. I’m talking things like: no replays on balls and strikes; no replays to find out if the runner at third tagged up correctly; no replays to see if the second baseman tagged the runner on the stolen base attempt. Nope, none of that. Those plays have been going on for a hundred years and everyone can deal with the consequences.
I am, however, open to maybe using the replay in situations where the umpires have been put at a disadvantage over time. Like trying to look through the glare coming off the windows in Houston to determine if a ball was over the home run line. Or trying to tell if the 200mph line drive off of the latest steroid user is fair or foul. Maybe that should be the test when drawing up the rules for its use.
I repeat: balls & strikes and routine plays in the field should be strictly off-limits. I would even go so far as to say that its use should be discouraged – maybe only allowing a small handful of contestings (is that what they’re called?) per team per season.
Dear Major League Baseball, don’t screw this up. Thanks, A Fan.