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Time for an instant change to replay

October 8, 2010

Few sports emphasize the importance of tradition and pride as much as our Nation’s pastime. Whether it’s the ceremonial first pitch or the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch, it’s safe to say that the rituals of the game will continue to be upheld as the 2010 postseason begins. Even one of baseball’s longest running customs, the lack of instant replay will remain absent from this year’s playoffs.

Why? Tradition and pride of course.

However, the tradition seems to be misguided and is based on a smug sense of pride for maintaining the integrity of the game. Considering the past two seasons have been littered with missed calls, many of which have changed the outcome of games, wouldn’t the use of instant replay be the proper way to maintain said integrity?

Now I’ll admit last year I wrote about why baseball shouldn’t have instant replay, but after screaming at umpire Jim Joyce through my television screen this summer for denying Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game by botching a call on what should have been the final out, I ditched my stuffy traditionalist mentality.

There’s simply no point in allowing the game to continue without implementing the use of instant replay, especially when an umpire’s mistake alters the history of the game. Instead of acquiring baseball nirvana by throwing the 21st perfect game in the history of the sport, Galarraga left with nothing but a bittersweet win and a depressing story to tell his grandchildren.

A simple booth review would have given Galarraga his due and saved Jim Joyce from receiving death threats by infuriated fans. The fact of the matter is umpires are human and bound to make mistakes. Although they make accurate calls far more often than not, there can be no excuse by the league to not correct errors when the technology is in place to combat it.

Sure, baseball has been criticized for its slow pace, but according to the Elias Sports Bureau, in 2004 the average length of a professional baseball game was 2:47:20. However, the average length of a professional football game (a sport which has already employed a working instant replay system) was 3:07.

If Major League Baseball would simply borrow a similar formula, the length of a game would only see a slight increase. Most importantly calls would no longer be missed.

Why not give managers two challenges per game like the NFL? Balls and strikes should still be left up to the discretion of the umpire, but why not let a team challenge a close play at first base that could possibly keep a ninth inning rally alive?

By simply adding one more umpire whose only job is to sit in the booth and review close plays would eliminate the need for lengthy meetings by the umpires on the field and would ensure that the correct call is always made.

Just because something is tradition doesn’t mean it is right. I merely hope a playoff game, or even worse, the winner of the World Series this year isn’t affected by another Jim Joyce faux pas. However, should that be the case, don’t fault the umpires. Instead, place the blame on the league’s stubborn refusal to progress the game into the modern era.


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