SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Should Baseball Have Instant Replay?

The report here is that the Majors might try instant replay in the Arizona Fall League.

After numerous blown home run calls this year, do the Majors have an alternative? Put differently, to what would instant replay apply? Just home runs? Check swings? Third strikes? Whether balls are foul or fair? Bang-bang plays on the bases? Diving catches?

That's the problem. I don't think that instant replay should apply to anything other than home run calls. That's where most of the problems have arisen, and they've arisen because of the designs of stadiums, foggy nights, balls leaving the park so quickly, among others. That problem, as it were, could be easily rectified. If the umps aren't sure whether a ball left the park, after the play stops, they can signal the replay official and look at video.

Problem solved.

Beyond that, I think that baseball is asking for trouble, especially since they've quickened the pace of play. During my years of viewing, I think that the umpires get mostly everything right. Check swings? The catcher appeals to a base ump, who gets it right. Third strikes? Why should they be treated differently from first or second strikes? So long as the ump has a consistent strike zone for both teams, I'm fine, even if it's painful at times to witness a different interpretation of the strike zone from the one I'd use (translated: umps with bad backs or big stomachs sometimes are overly generous -- or not -- on low strikes). Close calls on the bases? They don't miss many. Ditto for diving catches.

Used correctly, instant replay could help improve MLB's product.

On a limited basis.

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