Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

instant replay

Posted by flyingbk on 10/10/2009

I was at church tonight with my wonderful youth group kids, so I missed the thriller in the Bronx as the Yankees topped the Twinkies in dramatic fashion.

I did watch the highlights, including the most controversial play of the game. In the top of the 11th inning, with the game tied, the best player in the 2009 American League, Mr. Joe Mauer, sliced a line drive down the left field line off Yankee punching bag Damaso Marte. Replays showed that the ball was clearly fair as it glanced off Melky Cabrera’s glove and landed 10 inches inside the line. However, left field umpire Phil Cuzzi called the ball foul, even as he was less than 10 feet from the play! His blown call robbed Mauer of a double, and the Minnesota catcher would have to later settle for a single. The Twins would fail to score, causing many to protest that this injustice cost the Twins lost a run, and possibly the game, because of the umpire’s blunder (quite the erroneous conclusion, which I will touch at another time).

This bad call looks even worse from multiple angles. First, the point of having left field and right field umpires in the playoffs is to make these kinds of calls easier! One can easily imagine a third base umpire being forced to hustle down the left field line, but then actually getting the call correct! Second, the bevy of poor umpiring the last four days (Tuesday’s Game 163 between the Twins and Tigers included) is exposing MLB for its lack of accountability regarding its umpires. Why are so many of these umpires who are working this October considered to be among the worst? (Check out Cuzzi’s Wiki page and take note of his prior record.) It’s very possible that the worst umpire in baseball could be calling the balls and strikes in a most important contest for your favorite team! Can you imagine if a respectable company did not put forth its best representatives for crucial business meetings? And yet, that’s what MLB does with its umpires! Finally, the postseason is every major sport’s bread and butter; the audiences are at their largest, and it’s a chance for baseball to shine on the national stage. Instead, the sport is being ridiculed as umpires continue to blow important calls.

Which brings me to the point of this entry. A bad call like this brings back the age-old question: Should there be instant replay in baseball? Now, there already is instant replay for home run calls, which should be applauded. But what about the fair/foul and safe/out calls? We’ve already seen about six woeful miscues by the umps. So why not institute a system similar to the NFL, in which coaches can throw a cute red flag and challenge certain outcomes?

After all, isn’t the point to get the call right? On one hand, I agree. In fact, I would have no problem if we ditched home plate umpires and installed robots equipped with Questec technology to call balls and strikes; baseball hitters and pitchers (and fans!) deserve a uniform strike zone. If you watched the Tuesday game, you know what I’m talking about; Randy Marsh’s strike zone morphed into a new shape every couple innings.

But here’s the main problem with instant replay: It slows down the game. My biggest beef with the NFL is its awful sense of pace: there are way too many TV timeouts (check out reasons #49 and 50 for my 2nd beef). This defect leads to the humorous scene that takes place in every NFL game in which both teams are just standing on the field, waiting for the go-ahead to take their positions. If you’ve been to a game in person, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Trust me, it’s worse when you’re shivering on a below-freezing December night as you wonder when the HECK the next play will take place! (not that I’m bitter about that experience!) So on top of that fatal flaw, you have the wonderful world of instant replay, where coaches don’t even know what calls they can challenge, and referees then take an interminable amount of time looking at ten different angles. Therefore, I cannot advocate new forms of instant replay for my favorite sport. We’ll just have to live with the dreaded “human element.”

So while I desire for correct calls to be made 100% of the time, it just is not possible because of the time factor. But look back at my robot idea; it would not slow down the game. In fact, it would speed things up immeasurably since no one could argue with them, because they’re robots!

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4 Responses to “instant replay”

  1. Mike Jeun said

    if you’re gonna argue baseball is more exciting than football, i think pace is probably the last thing you’d want to mention. baseball, by far, is the slowest sport, next to fishing.

  2. jacobim said

    in a big game, i think fans would rather wait another 10 minutes for the game to finish than gripe all night, next day, and next week about an idiotic call from a blind ump.

    bring on the Inst Rep!

    • flyingbk said

      that’s a fair point. the umpiring this postseason has been ghastly; it’s almost like the umpires are being paid off by the instant replay lobbyists.

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