The topic of instant replay has been at the tip of everyone's tongue lately after a few calls have been quite controversial for the past few weeks in baseball.
With each ballpark being different, some consider walls, stairs, lines and other delimitations to be fair while others say they are foul. Despite Bud Selig's best efforts to keep things under control, a lot of controversy has risen.
But this doesn't just apply to home runs, but also for whether or not players are safe or have struck out. That is where things get real tricky.
Baseball is a sport of tradition, and has been praised for the fact that not much changes. As a matter of fact, along with golf, it is one of the two few sports where things have pretty much never changed.
Other sports like hockey, football and even soccer have introduced new technologies in order to enhance the game and make sure that things are fair. Whether it is wireless referee communication or instant replays, those sports have evolved, but baseball has trailed behind, relying on human judgment.
But with teams and athletes costing more money, a lot of skippers and owners want their teams to win at all costs. When you get robbed from a home run because of a bad home plate umpire call, what happens then? Do you just suck it up? Should you just live with the fact that you were robbed of a possible win?
Although I am a big supporter of instant reviews on certain things, I don't believe it should be used for pitching counts. I think that part of the game and excitement in baseball is the fact that each home plate umpire is different, forcing teams to scout them and pitching according to some of their habits. This makes for an unpredictable and exciting game despite some bad calls.
I do believe replay should be used for certain home runs, though. If not, I strongly suggest the MLB should re-enforce and clarify each specific fair and foul area of each ballpark to each umpiring team before each game so that the fair calls can be made. Something definitely needs to change.
I was shocked at how poorly these decisions were made when watching the game highlights on ESPN. These mistakes should not be made in 2008.
In the second case, there would be no need for the implementation of new technologies enabling people to see the slow motion of a possible home run and therefore the tradition of little change could remain.
However, ESPN has been pushing the issue forward, and change seems to be coming eventually. Even minutes ago, as I was writing this, they just displayed another instant replay of the Pirates being robbed on another bad call. Although I don't expect the changes to be imminent, I am confident that they will take place, as the MLB tries to catch up with other leagues.
Either way, the game needs to be made fair. Each game can only feature one winner and with some races towards pennants, each bad call can be quite significant despite the 162 regular season games.
Time will tell whether Selig is on top of things. Meanwhile, the public will continue to watch in frustration. I know I will.
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