Anybody who has watched baseball has questioned some decisions by umpires. They are human. They make mistakes. Sometimes a call by an umpire costs a team a victory. Yelling at the umpire is part of the color and fun in baseball.
Now Major League Baseball (MLB) has advanced a plan to expand instant replay of umpires’ decisions that may begin in 2014 if final approval is granted. Ball and strike calls would not be subjected to instant replay, which is good.
Managers would be able to challenge umpires’ calls three times during a game — one in the first six innings and two from the seventh inning to the end of the game. The calls will be reviewed immediately in New York by a central replay crew. The crew’s decision will be final. If a call is overturned, it won’t count against the three challenges.
Under the system in force now, only borderline home runs are subject to video review. Under the new proposed system, umpires would retain the ability to initiate reviews of home run calls.
Approval still is needed from the players’ and umpires’ unions. Also, the owners must approve the plan. At least 23 of the 30 team owners must approve the plan for it to be enacted.
Instant replays have worked well in football, but it has made the games last longer. Since many baseball fans today believe the games are too long, that is many of them, instant replays are going to drag out the time it takes to play a game. Is that good? Our first reaction was, instant replays are going to be part of just about every game, and is it wise to stretch out the time it takes to complete a game?
Other questions. Will a score be kept on how many calls are overturned by a certain umpire, and used as a means of evaluating his ability? Maybe that’s good. The cost to implement the plans will be millions of dollars. Like everything else in MLB, will that cost be passed on to the ticket buyer?
It would be better to experiment with video replays for baseball. Perhaps try it for a season or two and then make a decision. Also, three challenges for each manager per game is too many. One or two at the most should be allowed. Many times in a game there are no close decisions that would require an instant replay. Most of the time, there is only one or two at the most in a single game that would justify instant replay. Would this plan encourage managers to challenge more plays?
MLB appears on the path for the replay. Of course, if it doesn’t work out, it always can be trashed.
Former Cardinal manager, Tony LaRussa, said it will speed up the game since there will be no arguing by managers. He knows far more than this writer about baseball, but we don’t agree with him. What happens when there is a technology breakdown?
Technology is changing almost everything. Certainly most of the advances are good. But when put in play in sports, is it all positive? How far should it be extended in sports?