The Instant Replay Debate

It's been about 24 hours since the news broke that we'll likely (finally) see an advancement of instant replay technology and usage in Major League Baseball. After some initial confusion on the innings in which replay would be used, we're a bit more clear on the point that managers will have one challenge for the first six innings, and two challenges from the seventh inning on. Any review will come from Major League Baseball headquarters. While we don't know yet what will be reviewable, we have a general idea of the type of system we'll be looking at.

One point I'd like to be clear on: I think any move forward is, on the whole, a good move. I've long been tired of hearing about the human element in baseball. Furthermore, I've never understood the argument of replay making games last longer. You can't convince me that a quick replay to get a call right takes longer than a manager getting tossed and proceeding to yell an umpire's face off. That argument makes no sense. With that said, I don't exactly understand why Bud Selig and Major League Baseball decided that this was the best route to take.

First off, I've never been a big fan of a coach or manager in any sport needing to challenge a call. If the call is wrong, it should be fixed. This is where, for all of college football's pitfalls, that sport gets it right. On close calls, a quick booth review is done, and if the call is determined to be right, play continues without stoppage. This would be even easier to implement in baseball. Why not have an employee at each game to lok at video evidence and determine these sorts of things? While I don't foresee there being many (if any occasions) where a manager would need to challenge three calls during the course of a nine-inning game, what happens if a game goes 19 innings and the final blown call ends up tanking a team's season? Yeah, we're looking at you, Jerry Meals.

That brings me to my second point. If a manager realizes they're not likely to need the challenges, what if they, in turn, use them on meaningless plays in order to give a bullpen pitcher more time to warm up?

Let's say, for example, Michael Kirkman is on the mound in the 7th inning of a 5-5 game. He gives up a walk and two singles. Suddenly the bases are loaded, and the Rangers just barely got someone up in the bullpen warming up. What's to stop Ron Washington from challenging something meaningless in order to give a reliever time to warm up? I have to believe there will be some system in place for this, but it's not as simple as in football, where you can, for example, penalize a team 5, 10, or 15 yards. Perhaps these types of questions will be answered after the official vote comes in November.

What it really comes down to is that I don't understand why Major League Baseball, if reviews are going to occur separately from an umpiring crew, can't get every close call right instead of only the calls challenged by a manager. It shouldn't be incumbent on the manager to make sure the crews are getting it right.

Again, I like the progress. It's better than what's been in place before. However, I think there are better ways that this could have been accomplished. Then again, perhaps Major League Baseball was too focused on Alex Rodriguez to give much attention to the things affecting the game every day.