MLB Instant Replay

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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

Major League Baseball is considering instant replay. Commissioner Bud Selig says he's open to the concept. He has put it "under advisement." Why "under advisement?" Why not hammer it down and make it official…as of tomorrow?

The arguments against instant replay in baseball are nonsensical. The first is that it's a game of natural, human instincts. It's a game of human errors and that should evidently include the umpires' calls, too. Back in the day when we didn't have precision cameras, able to focus even through the dust at home plate, when we couldn't follow a slow motion slide of a shoe to determine whether the tip of that cleat touched the plate before or after a catcher's glove brushed the guy's shoulder….well, those were the days we hopped up and down in our bleacher seats (because we could see the tenth-of-a-second moment better from 400 feet away than the ump standing right on top of the action) and were convinced the umpire needed a check-up at the optometrist. Those were the days, mad as we were at the injustice of the call we knew all was right with America's pastime because surely the bad calls evened out over the course of an afternoon. Those were the days in tennis. And the NFL. We accepted the fact that a tennis referee's eyes couldn't possibly track a 120-mile-per-hour serve to the millimeter and would no doubt call a few good serves out, a few out serves in, and it would all even out in the end. The winner of the match would be the person who in fact did win it.

Those were the days in tennis and football but those are still the days in baseball. It has been many years now that we the fans at home see replay after replay, from left, right, high and low angles. We know without question that Alex Rodriguez a week ago today, cracked a ball into right field against the Orioles, a ball that on television replays flew below the bleachers and then ricocheted off a flight of stairs behind the wall. It was a home run. Clearly a home run to anybody who saw the camera angles on the multiple replays. The field umpires ruled it a double and, who knows, A-Rod may just come up short one crucial home run for his mounting stats this year…or years down the road when he's chasing the all-time home-run record. And that particular scenario is decidedly not addressed by the gaffes evening out by the end of the game. So what if the Yankees and the Orioles might have equal numbers of bad calls during any one game, or throughout any one season? What happens to Alex Rodriguez's personal stats? Baseball, after all, is the quintessential game of statistics. Now that we can actually call them right, why not do it? When all of us at home, and many fans at the park who are following replays on their hand-held computers, and oftentimes see the replay right there on the Jumbotron, when we all know the truth, it is patently absurd for the game to continue under false pretenses.

The other bogus argument is how much delay of game instant replay would cause. It's true that the football pause for replay runs longer than the tennis time taken. A team sport needs more angles of review than the single shot spot that shows precisely where the tennis ball lands. But the umpires and managers squawking in each others' faces, kicking up clouds of dirt in Oscar performances, take about as much time as stopping down to view a play. Let's give both teams two challenges per game. If a manager is right, he still has his two. If he's wrong, he loses one. Wrong twice, he's out of challenges. Replay will involve the fans, too. Show the replay on the big screen. Let the fans chime in.

Come on, Mr. Selig, get with the times. Remember how much trouble being behind the times brought when it came to performance enhancing drugs.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.



Diana Nyad