MLB Umpires: Do You Want Fries with Your Replay?
The discussion of instant replay in Major League Baseball is a hot topic right now and it looks like it's on the verge of becoming a reality—at least, for home run calls.
I am fine with the use of instant replay on home run calls, because with the ever-changing configuration of baseball stadiums and yellow lines blending in and bending all over walls in the outfield, it is not the easiest thing to definitively call.
There are two things I do worry about with instant replay, though. First, that this could open the door for everything being up for review.
If this were to ever be the case, lets just replace the umpires with robots.
There is a certain beauty to the blown call. Controversial plays define a certain game's legacy within the pantheon of memorable sports moments.
For instance, George Brett and the pine tar incident will forever be more memorable then Geoff Blum's extra-inning home run in Game Three of the 2005 World Series. The fact that I even had to tell you when Blum hit the home run proves my point.
My second problem is that by instituting instant replay, MLB is making the job of the umpire too easy.
When calls are blown, it's usually because the umpire is out of position.
Well, look at my friend Joe West, who blew a call in a recent Chicago Cubs-Houston Astros game. Kaz Matsui attempted to steal a base, and was clearly tagged by Ryan Theriot before he made it to second.
The problem here is that Joe West was out of position, and his view was blocked by Theriot. Theriot was in a position any shortstop would be to cover a steal. West did not move, missed the play, and called Matsui safe.
Joe West, like many umpires, is obese. His run (when he very rarely does so) resembles more of a waddle. That might explain why he made all of five feet onto the outfield grass to blow a call on a home run by Geovanny Soto. (Soto wound up with an inside the park home run, but it should never had been that way in the first place.)
MLB has had problems with the health of its umpires. This is a problem that is unique only to Major League Baseball.
Eric Gregg, who was always known for his weight problems, passed away at 54.
John McSherry was listed at 328 pounds at the beginning of the 1996 season. He made it through all of seven pitches on opening day that season before he fell and died of a heart attack at age 51 in front of nearly 50,000 fans.
The problem is unique to baseball because in other sports a great deal of movement is required among its officials.
I don't think that the MLB should require its officials to be constantly moving but in the wake of McSherry's death, the MLB had the chance to implement strict physical requirements for their umpires. Other sports have these requirements, despite the fact they really don't need them.
These requirements do not exist in the MLB—as you can see by the impressive physique of Joe West.
Instant replay is a short-term answer to the blown calls of umpires. Maybe Major League Baseball needs to look at how overweight the majority of its umpires are.
Maybe if Joe West lost 100 pounds, he could move his behind into better position to make the correct call without the assistance of instant replay.
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