Instant Replay in Baseball: What is it going to take?

ATLANTA- Technology is rapidly changing and with these advancements it intrigues me how people respond to change.  For instance, my grandfather has never and will never own a computer.  Not because it will not help him, but he cannot understand how to operate one of these new fangled devices.  Similar to my grandfather, Major League Baseball is struggling to adapt to changes but for completely different reasons.  Instant replay is not an unknown commodity among sports leagues but baseball traditionalist believe that it changes the roots of the game.  The question I pose to traditionalist and everyone else is what will it take to implement instant replay into the MLB?

Instant replay makes too much sense to me.  If I were the commissioner, I would add an extra umpire to each crew to review every play from the press box.  This umpire would be able to instantly review every play during the game other then balls and strikes.  I do not think balls and strikes should be reviewed.  Balls and strikes should be left up to the umpire’s discretion.    Other then that, every play should be reviewed.  If the umpire needs a moment to view the play further, he could buzz down to the crew chief and review it.

I have not been able to figure out how to operate coach challenges for baseball reviews.  In football, if a coach is wrong he loses his challenge and a timeout.  There is a risk and reward scenario at play.  In baseball, I have not come up with a reasonable risk for challenging a call.  For now, I would not allow coach challenges and just allow the umpire in the booth to overturn calls.

Will this add more time to the game?  Yes it certainly will, but I think it is time well spent.  Why does it matter if it takes more time to make sure the calls in the game are correct?  Are we in that big of a hurry that we do not care if the correct calls are made?  Secondly, I do not believe replay will add as much time as many people believe it will.

Baseball is pretty cut and dry.  The runner either beat the throw to first base or he did not, replay shows with absolute certainty the out come of that call.  An outfielder either caught the ball or he did not.  There is no judgment.  In the case that there is not enough clear evidence then the call on the field will stand.  On TV broadcasts the replay is slowed down to milliseconds and commentators are able to see whether the play was called correctly or not. According to Luke Decock of newsobserver.com, the ACC’s average individual replay during its college football games is about one minute and fifteen seconds. If an umpire is in a replay booth reviewing the plays as they occur, I do not think too much time will be wasted.

Finally, how many times a game would a call need to be reviewed?  I cannot tell you with absolute certainty but I think maybe two times a game.  There will be games when it will be used and games when it will be used less.  The rewards greatly out weigh the risks.

Other then the added time to games, which I believe will be minimal, why would MLB not institute replay to review calls?  It goes against the traditionalist’s view of baseball and its past time?  What does that even mean?

Doctor’s did not disregard the technology of an ultrasound to preserve the tradition of a mother’s surprise when she births a child.  Of course not, change is a part of life.  Technology is good.  Technology has completely changed the medical field and has allowed doctors and surgeons to save lives.  Baseball is just a game.  Why is it so hard to adopt these new changes?

Baseball used to be the most popular sport in America but times are changing.  A regular season Monday Night Football game between the Jets and the Vikings had 17.3 millions Americans tuned in.  4.7 Americans watched a MLB post-season game between the Phillies and Reds.  Nearly four times more people chose to watch a regular season football game over a playoff baseball game.  At one time baseball was America’s number one sport, but times are changing. Baseball may be America’s past time but football is America’s heartbeat.

Technology has changed, times have changed, but baseball refuses to change.  Like I stated before, what is it going to take for the MLB to adopt instant replay?  What if an umpire obviously blows a call to cost a pitcher a perfect game?  What if an umpire calls a ball foul when replay would shows the ball kicked chalk into the air as it hit the line?  What if an umpire’s call costs a team critical runs in the playoffs?  All of these things have already happened this season.  It makes too much sense to have instant replay in baseball.  What is it going to take to get it?

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