Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

On Instant Replay

Posted by flyingbk on 05/18/2016

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We live in the golden age of watching sports. Social media (especially Twitter) has allowed for quite the enhanced viewing experience. It’s like we’re all spectating and cheering with one another at a virtual neighborhood bar. For example, when the Mets won the National League pennant last October, one of my primary reflexes was to check my Twitter baseball list and re-tweet a wave of celebration; it’s the online equivalent of a high-five and hug.

These days, it’s also easy to know when the sports Twitterati will become outraged. One such instance occurred in last night’s Mets-Nationals game (one-word game summary: THORRRRRRRR). In the bottom of the 8th inning, the first base umpire blew a call, temporarily robbing Washington of a turned double play. But because Nats manager Dusty Baker had already used his challenge, the play could only be reviewed if the umpires decided to take a look. The umps did take a look, and properly reversed the call. Sure enough, on Twitter, there was explosion. The main outcry was that it wasn’t fair to take a look at it since Baker had used up his challenge.

But. Isn’t the point of instant replay to get the call right? Sure, the call hurt my team, but the call upon further review was correct. What last night’s instance does prove is that the current replay system in baseball is highly flawed. Last week, in a Mets-Dodgers game, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts asked the umpire to wait THREE different times in the same half inning so that he could decide whether he wanted to challenge the call. Not to challenge the call, mind you, but to simply choose if he wanted to use his challenge. This is highly inefficient.

The same applies in the NFL, which also possesses a preposterous replay system. There is a simple remedy to all this madness, and it’s a little mind-blowing to me that college football has the right idea while the pros do not.

In both MLB and NFL, you do the following: There’s another referee/umpire on site. Only he decides if a play should be reviewed. He immediately buzzes his colleague if he wants to take a look, and then he makes a speedy ruling. Here’s why that’s better: 1) Games would be faster. Roberts, or any manager, holding out his hand for the umpires and fans and players to all wait is silliness. A football coach taking out his red challenge flag from his sock is even more silly.

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But here’s the main reason why the current replay systems are awful: Why are we giving football coaches and baseball managers even more responsibilities?? There’s enough on their plates as is. These guys are control freaks; if you give them the agency to challenge any play (however insignificant in the flow of the game), they can’t help themselves. These are the same fools whose reflex is to punt at their opponents’ 40-yard line or bunt when the opposing pitcher is wild. How many times have we seen a NFL coach throw the red flag on a early drive or a baseball manager use up his challenge in the first inning? They are as helpless as Odysseus when the siren of any extra form of control cries out to them. (Sadly, this is also a trend in any power structure- bosses, even pastors, end up garnering more roles when they’re not even good at those things.)

Let’s get rid of all that. Let the NFL coach not have to worry about a red flag. Let the baseball manager go back to looking silly on the top step of the dugout in his sweatshirt. The game will be faster, there’ll be less dead time in contests, and the honchos won’t look as dumb. Everyone wins!

Also, if you have a replay ump in baseball, you still keep the number of umpires in a game at four. Why four and not five? That’s because the replay ump would replace the home plate umpire, who should be replaced with a robot. But that’s a topic for another time.

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One Response to “On Instant Replay”

  1. […] What an embarrassment for Major League Baseball. The umpires were more interested in getting off the field and enjoying a post-game meal rather than actually, you know, getting the call right. And in the middle of a playoff race to boot (LGM). The antidote is simple: Get rid of the challenge system in all sports. […]

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