umpires-instant-replay

CHATTER squareAfter much controversy and debate, instant replay has fully made its way into Major League Baseball.

In recent years, MLB has come under fire for lagging behind its peers in the adoption of instant replay. The NFL, NHL and NBA all incorporated replay into their respective leagues years ago.

The NFL led the way, adopting a form of replay in 1986. In August of 2008 however, MLB finally came around – but only partially. The league introduced an instant replay system for umpires to consult only in cases of potential home runs and spectator interference.

Following five full seasons with the system in place, however, MLB owners unanimously voted to expand instant replay beginning with the 2014 season. Finally, baseball is getting things right.

This season, replay has been expanded to include the most significant judgment calls in the game – force-outs and tag plays on the bases. However, ball and strike calls made by the home plate umpire are not subject to review.

Under the new system, each manager receives one challenge that he may use at any point in the game to initiate a review. If a manager’s challenge is successful in overturning a call on the field, he is awarded a second challenge. Beginning in the seventh inning, the umpiring crew, at the discretion of the crew chief, can initiate an instant replay review as well. This system incorporates comprehensive instant replay into MLB while also limiting its use.

Opposition to instant replay in baseball can largely be classified into two camps – the purists and those concerned about logistics. The first group – the baseball purists – is wholly concerned with keeping the game as closely aligned with its origins as possible.

On those grounds, they oppose instant replay as a modern invasion into an historic game with a storied pastime. While baseball’s history is extraordinary to say the least, that is not a justification to resist change. Judgment calls are a prominent part of the game, and umpires fall victim to faulty judgment on occasion. With today’s technological capabilities, MLB has the ability to eradicate the possibility of human errors affecting the outcome of games.

On June 2, 2010, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was about to seal a perfect game with 2 outs in theninth inning when first base umpire Jim Joyce erroneously ruled a runner safe at first base.

Instant replay would have – rightfully – cemented Galarraga and his perfect game into the storied baseball history that baseball purists defend. Armando Galarraga was the 21st pitcher in baseball history to throw a perfect game. Unfortunately, that is not how the history books read. Instant replay would have made things right.

Although the baseball owners were too late for Galarraga, they have finally taken a stand and seen to it that such a travesty will never happen again. Baseball purists oppose instant replay in the name of protecting the game’s history, yet it is the adoption of replay that will serve to protect the integrity and history of America’s game.

The second camp that opposes instant replay is largely concerned with the logistics surrounding the process. Specifically, many are concerned that replay will add unnecessary time to games that already regularly exceed three hours. To that end, MLB has instituted guidelines that state the league’s objective to have all reviews decided in 60 to 90 seconds.

Although during games some reviews have exceeded two and a half minutes, the added time remains minimal. After all, prior to replay, managers would argue with umpires for several minutes to voice their frustration. Now, managers and umpires are able to initiate a review within seconds and avoid a time-consuming shouting match.

At the end of the day, baseball purists are defending the propagation of flawed history and others are concerned about a few stray seconds.

I don’t know about you, but if a few added seconds is what it takes to get these games right, I’m all for it. That’s a steal.

Connor Maytnier is a freshman in the College.

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