Instant Replay in Major League Baseball: Why Right This Instant?

It is being reported that MLB is considering going to an instant replay for certain calls by August 1 of this baseball season. And while it’s probably a good idea for baseball to adopt replay for home run and fair/foul calls, I’ve got a problem.

What’s the rush?

Botched home run calls have been around since the beginning of baseball. And with the advent of stupid-ass ballparks like Minute Maid Park, it’s become easier for umpires to get a home run call wrong. But since this new replay uproar started in May – because of blown calls involving the Mets and Yankees – baseball has gone from thinking about replay, to considering a trial system for use in this fall’s Arizona Fall League, to putting it into use come August 1, 2008.

None of the reports are really quite sure of what the replay review will entail. The primary consensus is that this will be an NHL-type replay review in which video from all of the games is piped to New York City where an official watches the games, and who will then have access to the replays and who will then make the final call on whether the ball is a home run or whether it is fair or foul. But no one’s sure who will be the one requesting the review, on whether it will be the umpires at the game, the guy in New York, or one of the managers.

This leads me to my original observation. I’ve got a problem with this. Why is MLB rushing this? The NFL tested replay in the preseason, then implemented it the next regular season. The NFL didn’t decide during the middle season that it needed a replay system, and that this replay was going into effect for game 14 of the season. And I don’t recall the NBA or the NHL adopting a replay system and implementing its use in midseason.

Stick to the original plan. Test it in Arizona. Don’t rush. Give everyone time to get in place. To get all of the rules straight. To have all of the personnel in position. Then let’s start using it at game one of the season so that there are 162 games to get all of the kinks worked out before the playoffs.

Maybe it’s just me. But MLB has survived this long without replay. I don’t think waiting for the start of another season is going to kill it. – John Royal


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