The words in every baseball fan's mind is instant replay.
I know that I've been thinking about it since the most infamous "SAFE" call since Don Deckinger at the 1985 World Series. Instant replay is what is really at stake when somebody discusses Jim Joyce and his mistake.
Baseball is admittedly the most backward and non-progressive of the sports. It took until 1969 for Major League Baseball to introduce a playoff system and different divisions within the leagues. Of the few major innovations that baseball had introduced in the past three decades, they have all been controversial to some extent. The designated hitter, interleague play and the wild card have all been reviled by baseball purists.
Major League Baseball has already given a concession to casual fans and the people that wish that every league was like the NFL by allowing for instant replay on home run calls, both for ground rule and fair/foul calls.
Since that rule was introduced at the end of the 2008 season, it has certianly proved helpful.. Last night's blown call was the first major blown call on the base paths that had enough of an impact on the game and the history of baseball. Now, even more people have called for the use of instant replay on out/safe call.
What I'm here to say is that MLB, should not overreact to Joyce's blown call and use this an excuse to expand the use of instant replay on the course of baseball game. What happened yesterday was not extraordinary it happens several times at every baseball game, night in and night out.
"To err is to be human" no one can deny that. After cooler heads prevailed, Leyland, Joyca and Galarraga all did the classy thing and either apologized or accepted apologies for what happened. Perception is fallible and there is nothing practical that can be done about it.
If instant replay is first used on the basepaths, every single "bang-bang" play would have to be reviewed, if that is instituted then everyone will clamor for fair/foul calls to be reviewed. The biggest problem with that logic, is that it will make games even longer. Many baseball purists already think that games are already too long and instant replay would make games longer.
But the people who want instant replay are not the purists, it is the casual fans and the media sharks who can't stand baseball because it's so boring and takes too long and there is not enough action. Just imagine if there were about a dozen or so reviewable calls each game, each taking about 3 minutes to adjudicate. That would add at least another 30 minutes to a game that is already, "too long"
Fair/foul, out/safe and such are not judgement calls. So they can be reviewable by instnat replay, but what this could ultimately lead to is the use of instant replay on judgement calls, such as ball/strike, balks and others. Baseball is a 19th century sport, based on 19th century technology, when human judgement was valued above a machine's.
Video, computers and other technology can only ruin the game. The baseball umpire, especially the home plate umpire, has a lot of latitude when it come to making calls and everyone accepts it. It's part of the tradition of the game, and it has worked for nearly 150 years.
Why change it now?
Change for the sake of change is never a good thing and if cooler heads prevail baseball will be better for it. We must not remove the humanity from one of the most human sports in the world.