Why the MLB Should Leave Its Instant Replay the Way It Is

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 23, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 27:  Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig explains the rules involved with suspending game five of the 2008 MLB World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays till 8:00 pm (EST) on October 28 at the earliest of the Philadelphia Phillies at a press conference on October 27, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

After reading an article that stated that instant replay should be either used in full force or not at all, I felt compelled to respond.

The article itself even suggested that not only safe and out calls should be subject to instant replay but balls and strikes as well.

If that's the case, then why even have umpires at all? Might as well just use instant replay for balk calls, right?

To be fair, a lot of hoopla has been brought up due to the play at the plate during the A's/Twin's game from a couple days ago.

However, in all reality, the throw beat Michael Cuddyer to the plate. Yes, the tag was late and the call was wrong but that doesn't negate the fact that Cuddyer was taking a major risk trying to advance two bases on a wild pitch.

The home-plate umpire is not the reason the Twins lost that game, their pitchers who blew a 10-run lead lost that game.

Baseball is America's pastime and it has been played the same way for over 100 years and umpires making bad calls is just apart of the game.

The words "Little League" are more synonymous with youth baseball than any other sport played by the world's youth. "Pop Warner" isn't as popular, neither is "NJB" basketball, nor youth soccer.

Baseball has a history of being played a certain way and all of us who have played on an organized team have gotten used to the fact that umpires make bad calls.

The only reason that instant replay has come to fruition at all in baseball is because of the way the newly built ballparks have been designed. Often times it is extremely difficult to tell whether a ball actually left the park or not.

However, in the olden days of baseball when the Giants played at Candlestick Park or even current ballparks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, there was no discrepancy on home run calls.

Much like our local little league fields, in those stadiums there was never a question whether or not the ball was a home run or not. Either the ball went over the fence or it didn't.

But with parks like AT&T Park, Chase Field, and Miller Park, it has been difficult to judge whether or not balls leave the yard or if the ball is fair or foul.

In a game a few years back, former Diamondback Erubiel Durazo hit a "Home Run" that was actually five feet foul but glanced of the backside of the Giants' bullpen and caromed into the fair portion of the pen making it appear like a home run.

The umpires were convinced that the ball was fair and that is way the call stood. Those types of plays are the only calls that should be corrected because they are so black and white.

However, out and safe calls are much like the NFL replays that fans and referees call "inconclusive". You know what I'm talking about, those calls that no matter whether the referee calls it a catch or an incomplete pass, the ruling on the field will stand because there is no conclusive evidence to over turn the call.

But unlike in football, close plays on the bases are made quite frequently and in almost every game. Some are even so close that baseball announcers often say "the umpire cannot be wrong on that call" meaning it is so "bang-bang" that it could really go either way.

What happens with those calls if baseball institutes instant replay on every questionable play? Are we going to have instant replay being used in almost every inning?

Forget the absurdity of instant replay on balls and strikes, even just adding safe and out calls would make the game even slower.

And the idea to make baseball's instant replay similar to football with managers having limited amount of "challenges" is absolutely idiotic.

The home run instant replay rule was put in so that every home run call ends up as the correct ruling. If managers have only limited use of the replay system than there still will be plays that end up as blown calls by umpires that won't be able to be overturned.

And further yet, what would be the penalty for a manager being wrong on a "challenge"? A ball? Two balls? A walk?

Please, there is no logical way to make the system work as it does in the NFL.

Finally, if MLB were to go to instant replay with balls and strikes the league would become the biggest joke of professional sports.

First, what is the strike zone anyway? Everyone knows that the knees are the base of the strike zone but the top of the strike zone is different for every umpire.

Little League umpires call pitches at the letters strikes because the kids are so short, but in the MLB the strike zone is usually at the belt. However, some umpires call pitches above the belt a strike, some call pitches at the belt balls.

In reality, there is no universal strike zone. You hear all the time when you watch your local team that the announcers will say "this umpire is a low-ball umpire" or "this umpire is a high-ball umpire" or "you'll get a lot of knee-high strikes with this guy but not a lot of belt-high ones".

With safe/out calls, and balls/strikes there is a tremendous amount of gray, and therefore it would do more harm than good in trying to get every single call correct.

Meanwhile, home run calls are black and white when looked on by instant replay and that is why the rule has been instituted.

The argument that baseball has to go with zero instant replay or complete instant replay has no merit whatsoever.

MLB needs to leave instant replay the way it is or their league will start to lose credibility as an entertainment business.


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