Monday, May 19, 2008

Instant replay?

There was a little controversy over the weekend that awakened the calls for instant replay in baseball. In the Mets/Yankees game, Carlos Delgado had a home run called foul by the home plate umpire, a mistake the umpire owned up to after the game.

I'm in favor of instant replay in baseball ONLY if the system can be completely seamless and not interrupt the flow of the game. Since it's doubtful those two criteria can be met, you could call me anti-replay.

What I like about baseball is that the umpires do have a chance to review and change their calls after the play is over. This rarely happens in other sports, but in baseball it happens all the time. In fact, the mistake in the Mets/Yankees game came only when the home plate umpire overruled his counterpart.

I think that the four umpires on the field, who are the best-trained in their profession, make the correct call 99% of the time on close plays like that (ball/strike calls not included). I don't think instant replay is needed to fix the miniscule number of mistakes that happen in baseball.

Sure, Oriole fans would have liked instant replay when Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier robbed them of a home run in the playoffs. And Cardinal fans would have liked instant replay when Don Denkinger blew the call at first base in the 1985 World Series.

Baseball history is littered with bad calls that instant replay might have rectified. But I say so what? Good teams overcome errors--whether theirs or the umpires'--to win games. If the Cardinals couldn't get the final out on their own in that fateful Game 6, that's their problem, not Don Denkinger's.

Umpires should continue to be trained well, and they should continue to ask for help from their cohorts when they need it. That should be good enough.

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