Instant Replay In Baseball? Bad Idea!

For the longest time, Major League Baseball fans have complained games drag on too long and move at a slow pace. Complaints of too many pitching changes, multiple visits to the mound and constant timeouts have arose after games have dragged on for more then three hours. Debate over how to speed up the game has been going on for quite some time and in addition to speeding up the game, Major League Baseball is considering instant replay. Even though instant replay would allow teams to challenge close calls, it would not speed up the game, has not been perfected in other sports and would be a distraction.

This past spring, Major League Baseball took a public relations hit after umpire Jim Joyce botched a call at first base that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Gallaraga a perfect game. Replays showed that Cleveland Indians infielder Jason Donald was clearly out and Gallaraga should have had a perfect game. Even though replay could have overturned the call, it would have required played to be stopped to review the call. It was the end of the game, however, if instant replay were to be used, challenges would be able to come in the middle of the game and would require play to constantly be stopped to review it. This would make the games drag on longer and make it harder for fans to sit through. Replay can be used to overturn bad calls but the price would be a longer time to sit through a game to make things right.

Major League Baseball is still in the process of utilizing instant replay, however, the NFL has dabbled with instant replay in what most people consider to be limited success. The NFL decided to put in challenge rules for instant replays years ago and some believe the challenges slow down the game and that instant replay really doesn’t work. Announcers for NFL games have long complained that “inconclusive evidence” in replays makes it impossible for most challenges to be successful and it’s rare calls get overturned or reversed as a result of the replay rules. As a result, games are slowed down and coaches still challenge plays that will obviously not be reversed. If instant replay is brought into baseball, the same results will happen and managers will most likely use the challenges that have no chance of getting reversed.

While the NFL has had trouble perfecting their replay system, the NHL has almost perfected theirs, however, it took a long time for the league to reach that point and the league still had problems along the way. When NHL first started using instant replay, lots and lots of goals were taken away due to the fact the goaltender’s crease was “too big.” It was often shown that a player’s skate or body touched the outside portion of the crease and goals were disallowed. The NHL eventually had to reduce the size of the crease and even with instant replay available, many will never forget the controversy around Brett Hull’s game winning goal (or no goal if you are a Buffalo Sabres fan) surrounding the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. Hull’s skate was in the crease when the puck scooted by Sabres goatlender Dominik Hasek and the play was never reviewed and the Sabres lost the Stanley Cup to the Dallas Stars as a result. The rule surrounding the situation eventually had to be eliminated from NHL rule books as a result of the controversy surrounding the situation. Chances are, Major League Baseball would run into problems not forseen at the current moment and would have to make special rules to adjust in order to perfect the replay system.

While other sports have tried using instant replay with what has been considered to be moderate success, there is no telling it would be successful in baseball and be a distraction. Close calls happen in almost every Major League Baseball game and there is no doubt every close call would be reviewed. Having this constantly happening would be a distraction for fans and cause them to tune out because of the time needed to review the call in question. Managers would probably use the challenges as a stall tactic to ready the bullpen as well and slow down the game as a result. Instant replay may help reverse calls but with the number of close calls each game has, it would become more of a distraction then a helping hand.

Instant replay is modern technology, however, it would most likely cause more problems if put into Major League Baseball. Putting it in would cause games to drag on too long, become a distraction and other sports have not yet perfected their own replay systems. Even though bad calls happen all the time in baseball, instant replay won’t fix all the problems associated with them.

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~ by jeffrsabo on June 20, 2010.

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