Instant Replay Needed in Baseball?
Did you see what happened? Of course you did... it's been replayed a million and a half times since last night!
Just in case you're unaware... Detroit Tigers pitcher, Armando Galarraga, was unquestionably robbed on Wednesday, June 2. What would have been a perfect game was stolen by one bad call. Galarraga sent 26 consecutive batters back to the bench with their tails between their legs. With two outs in the ninth inning, the Tigers needed only one more out to clinch the perfect game. Then Umpire Jim Joyce made a [now] famous ruling that denied Galarraga his place in baseball history. Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians hit a ground ball to second base for what should have been the third out and end of a perfect game. He was called safe at first base, although the replay clearly shows he was out. After looking at the replay after the game, Joyce admitted that he blew the call and denied Galarraga a perfect game. Unfortunately for Joyce, this one bad call is reigniting the debate about instant replay. Reigniting it with a vengeance! Some arguments maintain that the league should reverse Joyce's decision. Many of these people also argue that the use of replay in baseball would have eliminated this issue in the first place. But purists maintain that its use would interrupt the flow of the game and that baseball would lose something if the human element was taken out of play. My answer to that? Nobody wants a machine judging... but humans can only do so much! Sometimes a second look is needed.
Umpires take the heat for bad calls all the time, but more often than not, they get it right (whether we want to admit it or not). We're not talking here about not trusting umpires or replaying every call. What we're talking about here is making the game fair. True, bad calls affect all teams and even out for the most part in the long run. And true, baseball games are already long enough (an average of about 2.5 hours) and instant replay would just drag the game out even longer. So what about implementing a challenge system similar to the NFL? Give teams a set number of challenges that utilize the instant replay and once they're out of them, then the play stands. It's noble to want the game to go faster. But for the fans, players and titles at stake, this isn't about time. It's about what's right. It's about giving the umpires a chance to see what we see in our living rooms. What we SAW in our living rooms on Wednesday.
There is another issue of debate concerning Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. He, and he alone, can still restore Armando Galarraga's perfect game. He still has the chance to make this right. Not only for Galarraga, but for the best interest of the game, the sport, the fans and the future botched calls that could make or break a game. Your first impulse may tell you that this could be a slippery slope. But he's not changing the result of a game, he is righting a wrong.
Other recent arguments for why replay is needed in baseball have arisen, but most are not the game-changing decisions we witnessed last night. Remember on May 21, in a game against the Orioles, when Alex Rodriguez was deprived of a home run that was ruled in play even though it had cleared the right-center field fence? The ball hit a staircase and bounced back on the field, but apparently the umpires failed to notice it. The Yankees won 8-0, so the botched call did not affect the outcome of the game like the one for the Tigers, but it did rob A-Rod of another home run stat.
So, we're left with the question of what should be done. Do we allow the use of instant replay and make the game longer but avoid situations like this? Do we give teams limited challenge ability? Or do we keep the game the way it is and live with the bad calls in the spirit of tradition?