Does Baseball Need the Instant Replay?

The World Series might have ended, and the season may be over, but that does not mean baseball is out of the news.

The MLB general managers voted yesterday to recommend the use of instant replay. The vote was 25-5. One of the five no votes was Mr. Ed Wade of the Houston Astros.

The replay would not be used for every play, just for possible home runs and balls on the lines. It would not be used for safe/out calls on a base. It would not be used for ball/strike calls.

Before replay can actually be used, it still has to be approved by the owners, the players union and the umpire union. So it’s still a year or two away.

I don’t really know how useful replay can always be. Unless a camera is placed precisely on the foul line, it’s not always possible to get a perfect angle on a ball down the line, and because of all of the weird outfield angles, I don’t think a camera’s always going to be able to tell if a ball goes over the line for a home run. But if there’s a chance it will help, I’m always for it – especially as long as Angel Hernandez is still working. (Though I can testify from personal experience that umpires don’t exactly like it when you show a replay of them getting the call wrong.)

And for what it’s worth, I can’t help but think Drayton had Wade vote against the replay for the cost involved. The cost involved to Drayton to make sure he’s got legit camera personnel on the cameras and not a bunch of Texas A&M interns from the marketing department who have handled the job in the past.

I think the big thing in the story – beside Ed Wade’s vote – is that baseball is once again going to try and speed up the game. One of the things mentioned is something that I’ve long advocated: batters should be prohibited from leaving the batter’s box between pitches. I have long called this proposal my Jeff Bagwell Rule. It could also be known as the Nomar Garciaparra Rule.

MLB already has a rule that prevents a batter from stepping out of the box, with the penalty being a strike if he so does. It’s just a seldom called rule. But there was never any legitimate reason for Jeff Bagwell to step out of the box after every pitch and do his bat swinging routine. And speaking of routines, it’s like Nomar’s got a mixture of ADHD and OCD between pitches with the way he fidgets with his feet and batting gloves for minutes at a time.

I can’t help but think this would really speed things up tremendously. -- John Royal


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