When Abner Doubleday created the game of baseball, he certainly did not envision a game that would be tainted by performance enhancing drugs, corked bats, and betting scandals.
While Major League Baseball has done its best to clean up the game in all of the given scenarios, they are now faced with another issue that could have dramatic effects on the game itself—the issue of instant replay.
Instant replay and baseball just do not belong together in the same sentence.
While it has been initiated into the other three major sports, and I'll admit has been quite effective, baseball simply has no need or place for it. Baseball is a game of tradition and a technological system that alters the judgment of an umpiring crew is terrible for the game.
Umpire crews normally consist of four men, except for postseason play when six men crews take the field to watch the foul lines in right and left field. These crews are among the top officiating crews in all of sports and I would say they are probably the strongest at their jobs when compared to referees in basketball, football, and hockey.
Not to mention they are paid much larger contracts than referees in any other sport, due to such a strong union protecting the umpires.
First of all, there is way too much controversy as to what should and shouldn't be allowed to be reviewed. Some people say that only fair/foul balls should be reviewed while others say that it should include home run calls, due to the A-Rod incident. Others believe that all calls should be reviewable.
The system is never going to be completely fair if some calls are reviewable while others are not, as we can see with the NFL instant replay rules.
One must either be in favor for all calls to be reviewable or none at all. The only way to keep it entirely fair would be to have no instant replay system.
Umpiring crews have a job to do—to make the calls that they see.
As a former umpire myself, I can tell you that we make mistakes and miss calls, as it is only human error. But, in all honesty, baseball is not a game of perfection, and there is human error within the game itself.
Umpires' judgment and authority are strong within Major League Baseball. Their calls are final and never subject to review, unless of course they collectively decide on a change in the call. Any type of replay system would do nothing but undermine their authority and take away their ability to make judgment calls.
Plus, there is no question that a replay system would add unnecessary time to the game itself.
People have said that it would not take any longer than it does now for an umpiring crew to huddle up and make a decision, but that is not the case. If we look at the NFL, the replay system adds unnecessary minutes to the game, while the fans sit and wait and broadcasters ramble about the same thing over and over until a decision is finally made.
It would be the same thing in baseball.
A huddle of umpires making a decision is quick and effective, while a replay system would require the crew chief to examine the play and the call multiple times. Then he would huddle with the rest of the umpires to let them know what was going on.
For a game that takes way too long already, adding more time is the last thing MLB needs.
Above all else, a replay system causes fans, players, managers, and owners to lose complete faith in the umpires, and there would be much less emphasis on training and working to achieve perfection with the system put into place.
If the system were to be initiated in baseball, an umpire's call would make no difference. Whether the call was correct or not, a manager could challenge the call and it would be reviewed. Umpires would be essentially useless on the field with a technologically advanced system to make the calls for them.
Even ESPN's K-Zone, which has been great for fans to see at home, has hurt umpires of Major League Baseball because it has put their judgment into question.
The umpire may have picked up something that K-Zone did not and that may be the reason why a certain call was made. Umpires are there to make calls based on their own judgment, not based on what a computer says.
The entertainment value of an argument between a manager, or even a player, and an umpire is absolutely priceless. Fans love it. Baseball would lose a lot of entertainment value with a replay system put into place because it would put an end to these arguments on the field.
Managers and players would have no reason to argue with an umpire and risk getting ejected when they could just look at a replay to determine what the correct call was. I don't think that a replay would be much more entertaining than an argument.
The future of baseball is in serious question here. It would completely take away the tradition of the game and the umpires' authority, who have worked so hard training to get where they are now.
If we want baseball to be the game it was supposed to be, rather than what it has become, instant replay is not the answer. Instant replay has no place in baseball and needs to be kept out by all means necessary.
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