Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can Instant Replay Work?

For the longest time I have been against baseball using instant replay for any reason.  You could call this an "old school" approach.  But I have been re-thinking this in light of what I see as technologically possible now.

One reason I have been against instant replay is that, quite frankly, nobody yet has come up with a system of replay that makes any sense.  So, I'd like to investigate that here.

One problem with proposed instant replay solutions is that these solutions get their cue from football's failed instant replay system.  Many people are in favor of importing the red hanky type of instant replay, where the manager gets to wave his red hanky when he wants a call reviewed.  Of course, inherent in this system is the flaw of deciding how many challenges to calls each manager gets.  Some propose one challenge (so use it wisely!), others several.  The problem with this is that it conflicts with the idea of "getting the call right."  I take more of a "getting the call right" approach.  So, if the manager needs more than the allotted number of red hankies, then he's screwed.  So if we take the "getting the call right" approach, the manager would need an unlimited number of challenges to any call, and the game would be ruined by seven or eight hour games.

So, the idea of letting managers have challenges to calls on the field is one that cannot be used.  Period.  But what can be used instead, I think, is having umpires that are dedicated to instant replay.  It's simply amazing how often TV broadcast crews are able to review umpire's calls and "get the call right" in the TV booth before the next batter starts hacking away.  The technology is easily available to make quick calls.  One thing that completely hampers the failed instant replay systems in football and baseball, is that the on-the-field umps and refs must leave the field to go to another location to review video.  Then, they only get to view the videos that are piped into them on microscopic screens on some camera somewhere that must have a shield to protect it from sunlight, etc.

What baseball could do is have one or more umpires on the crew who are dedicated to nothing but instant replay in a booth somewhere in the park.  They could be part of the normal crews.  Baseball umpiring crews rotate around the bases one base each day.  Home one day, first the next, then second, then third, and back to the plate again.  Well, with instant replay, they could rotate from home to first, second, third, the replay booth, then back to the plate.  The ump(s) doing reviews that game would have access to all camera angles and could review every call, in hi-def on big screens, split screens, whatever, and give the correct call to the crew chief on the field in a matter of seconds. We all know what a "close call" is, and that ump could instantly (hehehe, instant replay!) check the call.

Baseball is a much easier game to call than football.  Twenty-two players plus a ball, all in motion at the same time in different and changing directions vs. fair/foul or out/safe or homer/in play.  Baseball should have little problem solving the instant replay controversy.  But they won't because as usual, idiots are in charge.

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