Thursday, June 3, 2010

A perfect example of why MLB needs more instant replay

Paul Sancya/AP

Without much to talk about after a Cubs rainout in Pittsburgh, I decided I'd go on an angry rant about the scarcity of instant replay in baseball.

Bud Selig and MLB should have implemented a wider use of instant replay long ago. It was obvious when Jeffrey Maier turned into a right fielder; it was obvious when Fred McGriff was called out on strikes in the 1997 NLCS; and it was obvious when Matt Holliday was called safe at home in Game 163 three years ago.

And it was painfully obvious last night. The Tigers' Armando Galaragga had a perfect game going with two outs in the ninth, but umpire Jim Joyce blew a call (he admitted as much after the game) at first and it suddenly became a one-hitter. Now what could possibly or conceivably be wrong with the concept of Jim Leyland tossing a flag onto the field, the umpires conferring for a few minutes as they do now on questionable home runs, and then the crew chief coming out to the field and signalling "out" as the crowd's boos quickly become cheers. Would that be so wrong?

I'm not sure if you've noticed this, Bud, but the NFL recently incorporated a heavy dose of instant replay into their rule book, and it's pretty sweet. They even do it in tennis! (The crowd oohs and aahs as they show the replay live--it's kind of fun, actually.) Last night in the Stanley Cup finals, they reviewed an uncertain goal call and got it right. And then they did it again! It works like a freakin' charm!

I know it's not an easy task. There are annoying little things to be written like "Manager will have a red flag available, and may choose to throw the flag onto the field if he desires to challenge an umpire's ruling." That's annoying, no one wants to write that. And there are questions, like where do the runners go if a ball originally called foul ends up being fair? But they should have been working on this for years, and if they can review home runs, they can review bang-bang plays at first (although, we better clear up that whole "tie goes to the runner" myth right now), close plays at home and trapped balls in the outfield.

Amazingly, Galarraga's perfect game would have been the third already this season. Until this year, there had never been two in the same season. Joyce obviously deserves some blame for making a pretty bad call in a situation where normally, the benefit of the doubt would go to the pitcher, if anyone. But Joyce could have gotten off the hook and Galaragga could have gone into the history books if they could have just reviewed the damn thing.

Reds announcer Marty Brennaman said there has to be a way to make this situation right. I'm not sure if that's the case, but there's definitely a way to make sure it never happens again.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Purists argue that replay would remove the "human element" from the game, but it hasn't adversely affected the other sports. I wouldn't support replay for balls and strikes, but everything else is fair game. Once Selig is gone, it's just a matter of time.

  2. Yeah, how is the "human element" a good thing when it basically just means, "Sometimes umpires blow huge calls in huge situations which could easily be remedied with today's technology"? Why are we okay with that?

  3. I agree! I see that MLB is considering looking at the play last nite a bit closer. I don't know if they'll reverse it, but they should!

  4. At least he got a new Corvette out of the deal!

  5. I don't like instant replay. Until I get to use instant replay every time I'm burned by a bad call in my own life, I'd rather see people getting paid millions to play a game do what I have to do: get over it.

  6. I agree Brandon! This absolutely makes a great case study for why instant reply is needed. Although I would never replace technology for human judgment, baseball is behind the times with their officiating.