Open Mic: Baseball Needs Instant Replay

Stephen HennesseyCorrespondent IMay 22, 2008

Three nights after Carlos Delgado's home was incorrectly called a foul ball by the umpire crew, another missed call occurred last night at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez hit a screaming line drive to right field in New York's 8-0 victory over Baltimore. The ball appeared to carom off of a foundation located behind the right-center field wall, which would result in a home run. However, the umpires thought differently, as they said the ball stayed in the yard.

I was sitting in the left-field stands, and it was quite obvious that the ball ricocheted way too hard to have just hit off the outfield wall. Sure enough, fans got their cell phones out and called friends who were watching at home, who told them television replay confirmed it hit off a stairway located in the bleachers.

This replay, however, was not available to the four umpires attempting to determine if the ball was a home run or not.

Boos from the 50,608 fans in attendance echoed down from the majestic seats of the stadium, letting the capped men know they got the call wrong.

A-Rod was forced to take a double instead of a home run, which would have been his third in five at bats.

With such a blatantly obvious blown call, instant replay must be considered an option for MLB umpires. While these officials are some of the best professional referees, it is very difficult to judge with the naked eye where a ball struck 314 feet away from where you are standing.

If MLB executives want to see calls made accurately, and not see their teams get screwed out of calls, then why not bring instant replay to baseball?

In the NFL, instant replay has become a huge dimension of the game. Coaches are given two challenges that they can use to question a referee's call, and referee's can even use booth reviews to determine the justified outcome of a play.

The NBA and NHL have also implemented assets of instant replay to the game to ensure accuracy. So why is the MLB so far behind?

First of all, it seems as if baseball fans believe baseball to be some ancient, pure game. Baseball traditionalists argue that you would take away the human element of baseball by implementing replay, which is a part of the game that is beautiful. So, it's beautiful when calls are incorrectly assessed and could potentially cost your team a game, and potentially a playoff bid?

Then there are the arguments of slowing the game down. It is true that baseball is a long game already, and non-baseball fans will tell you this by calling it "boring." Of course it's not boring, but MLB executives have stressed the importance of keeping the game fast-paced in the past.

An attempt at maintaining the entertainment of its fans is no surprise.

What is a surprise, however, is the complacency of letting inaccurate calls simply occur. If the technology exists, why are they not using it?

The NBA doesn't stop to replay every single questionable out-of-bounds call made. They only use it during questions of clock management and players leaving the area in a fight. The MLB could possess a similar sort of system.

They could only stop to replay balls that appear to be fair but are called foul. Maybe even examine whether or not it would be possible to review plays on the basepaths that call the runner safe or out. The replay review of balls and strikes would be out of the question, because that definitely would be unbearable to watch.

But at some point, you have to draw the line where you are willing to give up accuracy for entertainment. Falsely-called foul balls could occur during crucial situations, costing a team enormous shortcomings.

Umpires are only human, but cameras don't lie.

Remember that, Bud Selig.