Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MLB, Won't You Please Join Us in the 21st Century?

This morning after watching a few minutes of ESPN and some of the highlights, I was ranting about the idiotic call made yesterday by Major League Baseball umpire Tim McClelland, ironically calling his 4000th game in the majors, and making a boneheaded mistake.

The Kansas City Royals' Jeff Franceour had just crushed a ball that bounced off the top of the wall in left-centerfield and Detroit outfielder Austin Jackson made a good play to catch the ball on the rebound and prevent a home run. But McClelland called Franceour out, even though it was a live ball. After reading accounts, I understand that it was a case of brain freeze. McClelland realized his mistake immediately and tried to correct it.

But that is nothing in comparison to what happened today:

This kind of play begs the question: When will Major League Baseball step into the 21st Century with the rest of the world and set up an instant replay system?

It's bad enough that the only replays currently allowed are home run calls because it got so bad a few years ago, umpires couldn't even figure out when balls when over the fence or hit the foul poles. And even in some cases after instant replay had been instilled in those situations, they still got the call wrong.

But more and more, I've noticed a growing rash of horrible calls. Yes, there's the occasional "bang-bang" play at first base that can go either way when you're watching in real time, but I'm not talking about those types of plays (although those can easily be corrected by watching an instant replay). I'm talking about calls that are egregiously wrong.

Two years ago, Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game that could easily have been corrected had MLB had an instant replay system. There are plays too numerous to mention when it comes to blown umpires' calls in the MLB from regular season games to more important playoff games. But in a world where the average viewer sees an instant replay of practically even play during the game, routine as well as controversial, why is Major League Baseball so adamantly against using instant replay to help correct human error?

Practically every other sport uses it. The NFL has a challenge process by which head coaches can challenge a ruling on the field. The NBA can review baskets that come close to the expiration of the shot clock even long after the event during the next stoppage of play. The same applies to NHL goals. Even pro tennis players can challenge the ruling of whether a ball was in play or out and it's checked by computer graphics. But the resistance of MLB to the use of instant replay is mind boggling.

And I don't know why. Some say it would slow down the game even more than its current snail's pace, or that the umpires' union would never allow it. Well, what if an extra umpire were hired for every game to sit in a video booth and instantly see every replay just like we do at home? That would be 16 extra umpires employed by MLB and the video review would be instantaneous. Some say you don't want to show up the umpires. Ask Jim Joyce if he'd prefer being "shown up" instead of giving Armando Galarraga the perfect game he so richly deserves. And what shows up the umpire more than an angry manager arguing a questionable call on the field in front of thousands of fans?

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig can etch his name into the annals of baseball history by mandating some form of instant replay system to double check important calls that can sway the outcome of a game. God knows he won't be remembered for much else. So, please, Major League Baseball, for the sake of the Baseball Gods, join us in the 21st Century and consider making instant replay part of the day to day operations, simply for the sake of making the right call.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misidentified Jeff Franceour as a Detroit Tiger and Austin Jackson as a Kansas City Royal, and has since been corrected. (Thanks, Annette.)


Annette said...

Can I correct you?... Frenchy Franceour is with the Royals... not Detroit...

It's sad they won't use the replay... they say it will slow down the game, but that's just bogus.

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