22 May, 2008

Is Instant Replay the Answer?

Human error has been a part of sports since the beginning. In this age of technology, several sports leagues have embraced the advances and used them in an attempt to improve the game.

The NFL was one of the first to do so, the NBA and NHL have followed suit. Instant replay even has a place in Tennis.

The big hold out is MLB.

The main argument against it is the same thing that comes up any time a change to the game is suggested.. in a word, Tradition.

Other arguments include slowing an already slow game, the delay would be a detriment to the pitcher (potentially injury causing) and more.

In a recent game between the NY Mets and the NY Yankees in Yankee Stadium, Carlos Delgado was robbed of a 3 run homerun when the homeplate umpire overruled a call from the 3rd base umpire. He, upon seeing the replay after the game, admitted that he made the wrong call. Now, this didn't make a difference in the game (the Mets won 11-2), but it isn't the first time that a call has been missed.

Here's what I propose.. Only use it when it will decide whether a run will score (i.e. fair or foul for homeruns or close calls at the plate).

Don't use it to challenge the strike zone, don't use it to see if a player beat a throw at first, don't use it to see if a fielder caught the ball or not. These are part of the game, and often have little to no bearing on the outcome of a game.

Also, there should be a time limit to the time taken to review a play. A few minutes should be all that is requisite to decide. If not, the original call stands. Only the managers and the umpire crew chief can call for a review, and each manager can only call for 2 per game.

Should there be a penalty if the call is not overturned? Perhaps, but it's not like you can take away a time-out like in the NFL. Taking away an out is a bit harsh.

I think that there is a way to make instant replay work. It can be done without being a drag on the game.

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