Instant Replay in Major League Baseball: Foul Pole Really Fair?

A.J. WithemContributor IMay 23, 2008

In the sports world, the search for a perfect umpire or referee is never-ending.

We all know that no one is flawless, which includes in game officials. All bad calls, if they go against our team, annoy us beyond belief.

Let's face the facts, it is a part of each game and we can't do anything about it from the comfort of our La-Z-Boys. Although I usually think otherwise in the minutes following.

In Major League Baseball this past week there are have been, like a normal week, controversial calls from umpires. The biggest ones dealing with home runs, and coincidenceidently both occurring at Yankee Stadium.

One dealt with a ball that grazed the the left field foul pole and was ruled foul, proved through instant replays. This is an inaccurate call because the foul pole actually indicates fair.

The second was a home run off the bat of Alex Rodriguez, which hit a set of stairs beyond the right field wall. The stairs are painted yellow to indicate a home run if hit.

The play was ruled as a ground-rule double, which replays indicate hit the set of yellow (home run) stairs. Those umpires who made the wrong decision came forward in the following days to announce they "blew the call."

With officiating always a topic of debate, such as the bad call everyone talks about the next day. If you asked me, which sports has the best officiating, I would have to say MLB.

Even though MLB umpires have blown some big calls in the past week, I still think they do the best job. If you break it down, I think in 2007 umpires were correct over 90 percent of the time, taking into account umpires have to officiate 162 regular-season games; that's a pretty good percentage.

In my opinion they are the most consistent through the entirety of a baseball contest. A recent ESPN SportsNation poll indicates that the majority of fans are in favor of instant-replay on all controversial calls in MLB.

Call me a baseball traditionalist (I still think ball pants should be worn high to show the socks), but I agree with EPSN's Tim Kurkjian, that instant-replay should not be in MLB in any regard. Being an umpire myself, I agree with Kurkjian's conclusion that "human error is part of the game."

Matt Holliday of the 2007 National League Champion Colorado Rockies, still hasn't touched home plate in the one-game playoff against the San Diego Padres determining the fourth National League team to get into the playoffs.

The problem I had with the play isn't that the wrong call was made but was the position of the home-plate umpire. He was practically behind the catcher and in no position to determine whether or not Holliday was out or safe.

I contribute the errors in officiating in MLB  to the age of some of the umpires. MLB umpires have one of the most secure jobs in America. Umpires have their job until they retire, not allowing room for new umpires to come into the game.

I think the best way to improve officiating in MLB is to get a few younger umpires, implement umpires in the outfield, or make things more visible in Major League ballparks.

I would have say the worst officiating comes from football, because of major inconsistencies and even with instant-replay challenges, they still get the calls wrong.

Touchdowns counting six points, penalties costing teams 15 yardsI think the referees in the NFL and college football have the largest impact on the outcome of the game.

The National Hockey League does an incredible job. Commonly overlooked, NHL referees have to dodge pucks and huge hockey players, and skate on ice and still do their job. Making their job more difficult than the other sports, in my opinion, yet they still are incredibly accurate in their calls.

To sum it all up, I think all the umpires and referees of the major sports do an awesome job, but they all have room for improvement.

Baseball being the best, hockey being the hardest, and the football being the worst and most inconsistent.