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Ask The Geico Guy: Is Instant Replay In Baseball A Bad Idea?

Do you live under a rock? Of course, its a bad idea.

Every time there’s a blown call in baseball everybody starts crying about how baseball needs instant replay. What nobody realizes is that these calls only ever come when it is a sympathetic character that gets “robbed.” Everybody was up in arms last year over the call Jim Joyce blew which cost Armando Gallaraga a perfect game. Everybody is up in arms over Jerry Meals’ rob-job of the Pirates the other night.

It is exactly this emotional, knee-jerk reaction that hides the fact instant replay hasn’t worked as intended in football, and it would be a disaster in baseball.  Take a look at the following reasons why instant replay in baseball is a terrible idea.

1) It doesn’t solve the “bad call” problem.

Face it, this is the whole reason the call for replay exists; people are enamored with the idea of eliminating “bad calls.” By following the logic of the argument, one is led to the conclusion that bad calls have been wiped from the face of the NFL.  Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, replay allowed for the creation of silly rules which by their very enforcement are bad calls – such as the “Tom Brady Tuck Rule” and Calvin Johnson’s “Catch that wasn’t a Catch” last year.  Wait until instant replay meets the “Balk Rule” in baseball if you want to see this kind of ridiculousness.

2) It makes the game longer.

Lengthening games is really the last thing baseball needs. Thanks to Fox, playoff games are already creeping north of four hours, and let’s be honest, with replay there will be greater scrutiny during the playoffs.  As it stands now, every close play in foo ball gets reviewed, and reviews are now so common that referees take time to huddle before making the call on the field just so the call can be reviewed by replay.

Don’t even try to tell me try to tell me this won’t happen in baseball.  Wait for your first NFL games this season and count the times play is stopped only to have the call on the field upheld because the video evidence is “inconclusive.”

3) In baseball, calls don’t automatically mean the end of play.

This the functional nightmare nobody seems to be thinking about when we talk about replay in baseball. In football, the referee’s whistle means the end of the play; there’s no other action happening on the field. That’ s not always the case in baseball. Take the following example:

There’s a runner on second and two outs. The batter hits a fly ball to deep center field. The runner is off on contact, but the second base umpire rules the center fielder caught the ball, ending the inning. However, replay shows the center fielder trapped the ball. Where do you put the base-runners? Does the umpire give the hitter second base and allow the run to score? Or is it runners at first and third with two outs? What if it’s the bottom of the ninth and that run means the ball game?

The point is that you cannot eliminate judgement calls with replay, and baseball has far more situation like that than football does, and baseball has tons of calls which don’t stop the action, which will only complicate the issue of “fixing” mistakes.

4) It doesn’t solve the root cause: Bad Umpires.

Here’s the big problem…Joe West with a replay screen is still Joe West. Country singin’, call-blowin’, manager-tossin’, Joe Fucking West.  Major League Baseball is full of guys who have no business calling anything let alone a ball game, but the umpires are unionized so there no such thing as holding them accountable or hitting the eject button on such incompetents as Country Joe, C.C. Bucknor, Bob Davidson, or Angel “I gotta toss the guy who sang Take Me Out To The Ball Game” Hernandez.

Now, if we could only get Country Joe to be the singer Hernandez tosses.

5) “The Slippery Slope”

Generally, I disdain “slippery slope arguments” because they usually are incapable of distinguishing the first event on the slope from the last. This type of argument gets used in politics all the time, but replay in baseball presents a time when this type of argument fits. In case you’ve forgotten, replay already exists in baseball on boundary issues. So, by definition, the argument to expand replay is a “slippery slope argument.”  First it will be catch/not a catch, then it will be safe/out calls on the base paths; ultimately the replay-o-philes will get this down to balls and strikes. The argument that sticks all the way down the slope is “we need to do as much as possible to get thing right for the proper outcome of games.” Well, name an official in any sport that has more control over the outcome of a game than the home plate umpire in baseball. If this happens, get ready for five-hour ball games.

6) Technology doesn’t change the fact people make mistakes.

Let’s says that we get every thing available to be reviewed by instant replay.  Is the guy watching the replay monitor human? Do humans fuck up all the time? So, why does the concept of instant replay automatically get a pass on the inherent flaws it has? The only argument I’ve ever heard on this point is “replay is better than anything else.”

Here’s my question: if people make mistakes, and both systems inherently involve people, doesn’t it make sense to introduce a system that rewards making less mistakes and punishes making too many? In other words, as long as have a glut of bad umpires, you are going to have a glut of bad calls. As I’ve mentioned, that’s the fundamental problem with instant replay; it doesn’t even solve the problem it is intended to solve, in fact in several respects it complicates them.  So, before we knee-jerk our way into a plan that solves nothing, introduces a host of new problems, and happens to have some serious practicality issues, wouldn’t it make more sense to make the first step eliminating the bad umpires?

Now, that sounds like a good idea.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

9 comments on “Ask The Geico Guy: Is Instant Replay In Baseball A Bad Idea?

  1. tophatal
    July 28, 2011

    It’s rumored that ’til the wheel is reinvented Selig and his minions won’t be considering instant replay .

    On the other hand the fans attending the game ‘tween the Braves and Pirates were said to be enthralled by its length and the excitement created . Can’t say that the ump was impressive in missing that call . But there you go !

    Like

  2. chappy81
    July 28, 2011

    I think in some instances it might be worthwhile, but in the case of the game that just happened. If they did review that play, would they difinitively have said they tagged him? In baseball I feel like a lot of replays you can barely even tell on the bang bang moments, so how many calls would they really over rule?

    Nice post, I agree with basically everything you said.

    Like

  3. sportsattitudes
    July 29, 2011

    NFL is my best example. I sit each week and watch reply people get the calls just as wrong as the ones who originally made them. Human beings, people. Human beings. Nothing gets people madder than when the call on the field is made incorrectly and the replay folks let it stand. Good luck with that in baseball…

    Like

  4. ChrisHumpherys
    July 30, 2011

    I’ve been calling for instant replay in baseball, in certain situations, ever since Jeffrey Mayer stuck his mitt over the right field fence and grabbed that home run ball that wasn’t. (Sorry, Cleveland)

    I wouldn’t mind them at least looking how to improve the sport. God knows, it needs it. If that means instant replay, then so be it.

    If it doesn’t happen, I’m cool with that too.

    However, I genuinely enjoy instant replay talk because it really pisses off the purists.

    Like

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