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Joe West is president of the World Umpires Association.
In an attempt to further integrate instant replay into baseball, MLB is taking the right baby steps.
The items which received the highest percentage of votes in the UEFL Aug. 2011 poll are the same items currently being proposed as the newest phase of instant replay in baseball—fair or foul, catch or trap, fan interference or no interference.
As a result, this deal contains proposals most likely to be accepted by the owners, executives and most importantly, the umpires.
With a similar UEFL poll (n=251) finding that the three least difficult calls for an umpire to make are home run/no home run (one percent), fair/foul (two percent) and catch/no catch (four percent), proposing that baseball introduce replay in these and the spectator interference arena is a no-brainer.
No umpire wants to get a call wrong, especially when the type of call missed is considered one of the easiest to make.
Instant replay solves this problem by making sure the umpires have the tools they need to get the calls right.
Undoubtedly, the largest complication expanded instant replay will raise is the issue of runner placement following an overturned call.
With a chance to consult the video, however, the umpires should be able to consult enough replay angles to properly place any runners displaced by an overturned call.
The only remaining thorn in the umpires' side is the issue of a runner who, having believed a ball has been trapped instead of caught—or vice versa—advances to his next base after relying on an umpire's incorrect call instead of retreating to tag up on the actual caught ball.
This peculiar scenario would penalize a team either by taking away a double play or by punishing a runner for trusting an umpire's incorrect on-field call.
Still, the good of this deal far outweighs the slim opportunity for that kind of a complex situation.
In the end, this is why MLB's proposed deal is a good one and why the umpires should ratify the new agreement in advance of the 2012 season.