Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Instant Replay

Instant replay starts tomorrow in Major League Baseball. It will be limited to two types of calls (initially, of course): 1. fair or foul calls on home runs, and 2. home run calls where the extent of the fence is in view. The first type of call is simply this: the ball is obviously a home run, but the question is whether it is fair of foul. The second type is this: did the ball clear the fence (or yellow line as the case may be), or did it hit the fence or other object making it unclear whether it should be called a home run.

I'm divided on instant replay in baseball as of right now. I've always been against the concept, but the current system has a few positives. I can see it in football. Seven referees need to watch 22 players plus a ball (with an eye on all those standing on the sidelines too) all moving in different directions at the same time. In baseball, plays are not as complicated to call. The strike zone is set up by the home plate umpire so that even if it isn't correct, it is consistent in most cases. Limiting its use to home run calls, just to get them right, might not be a bad idea.

In recent years, baseball has undergone a ballpark building boom, often with quirky fence conditions, and the fans are placed right on top of the action, making it difficult on umpires to call something from 250 feet away. Back in the "sterile ashtray" ballpark days, where stadiums were designed for 38 different sporting events, there was often a solid fence with plenty of space behind it. Home run calls were relatively easy.

Tonight during the Giants game, Giants executive Larry Baer was interviewed as to instant replay. He stated that had the current plan been in place on opening day, there would have been only sixteen calls in all of baseball all year long where instant replay would have been used.

Even though, something tells me that giving an inch will result in a mile being taken. We'll have to wait and see.

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