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Giants Welcome New MLB Season with Instant Replay's 1st Controversy

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Going into the 2014 MLB season, baseball fans welcomed the advent of instant replay in the sport but knew there would be growing pains. Just a couple of games in, the Giants suffered growing anguish. 

Thanks to MLB.com, we take you to the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Giants leading the Diamondbacks 4-2—eventually losing the game, 5-4.

Matt Cain fires over to first with the Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock taking a lead. Unfortunately for Cain, he would soon learn that a frustrating 2013 would quickly bleed over into the new year. 

Pollock dives back and is called safe, a call that is quickly challenged by Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Now we have to say that it certainly looks like the 26-year-old center fielder is out, but we will let it slide because there may not have been definitive proof to overturn the call. 

And really, there is a far more egregious call coming up. Bochy and the Giants just don't know it yet. 

Moments later, with Pollock now on third with two outs, Cain manages to get one past Buster Posey, garnering a play at the plate. What we see from the camera's angle is Pollock's cleat catching in the dirt, fly above the plate and into Cain's glove before touching home. 

Out. Right? 

Wrong.

It's understandable that managers, much like kids with a new toy, are hot to trot to use their newfangled challenge, but you have to pick and choose your battles when you have just one in the first six innings. 

Bochy spoke with reporters and said he wouldn't change anything if he had the same opportunity, via MLB.com

What else are you going to do if you think they didn't get the call right? Unfortunately, they're not all gonna go your way or get overturned. But that's the gamble you take. I'm sure there could be another play, but you don't know that. 

You might think Bruce Bochy has to be fairly frustrated with instant replay. In fact, he probably hates replays in general. Don't let this man in your house or else he will smash your DVR, destroying all of those episodes of The Good Wife you saved up like they would be worth double in the fall. 

In reality, he is doing just fine with the added innovation into the sport. Last season, he would have had to get by with simply arguing his case, more than likely walking back to the dugout annoyed.

This season gives managers the opportunity to see that play again, which is something. Now despite this one game, it really is a huge something. 

CBS Sports' Dayn Perry thinks we can do much more, though: 

The point of replay should be -- bold declaration forthcoming -- to get the calls on the field right. I get that the challenge system adds another tactical layer to the game, but at best that should be distantly secondary to making sure critical calls are made correctly. If we compromise that greater goal in the service of sprouting another twig on the manager's decision tree, then we're being too clever by (at least) half. If nothing else, every scoring play should be subject to review regardless of when it occurs and regardless of whether the manager in question has any lucky-best challenges left in his patent-leather, monogrammed shoulder holster of lucky-best challenges.

Before we condemn the replay system, know that it is in its initial throes of implementation, and one that is going over fairly well. 

The Associated Press (h/t Deadspin) notes that replays are reviewed in a timely manner, cutting down one of the more obvious concerns many had before its use. 

The good already outweigh the bad, and it's reasonable to assume that is how it will go the rest of the season. Overturned calls as well as umpire vindication will more than likely outnumber the egregious hiccups peppered within. 

Still, this will be baseball for the next year, because, as Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan notes, there will be no changes to the system until 2015, which is a good thing. 

This will stave off the kind of reaction that could hurt the game. Most would agree that one challenge for the first portion of the game is too little, but what is too much?

That is a question no sport has been able to answer correctly, and one MLB has no chance in hammering down perfectly—not that this sport has ever been about perfection. 

However, with plays like the one on Tuesday night along with all those to follow in the next season, MLB will whittle down a nice comfortable replay system that should sate the masses. 

Of course, as we have seen in other sports, the debate, controversy and arguing will go on forever, which should yield a nice warm tingly feeling of familiarity. 

Then again, perhaps that's just frustration. 

 

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