Tuesday, October 2, 2007

MLB should consider instant replay

ON BASEBALL

Padres fans, I'm sure, were fuming after their team's 9-8, 13-inning loss to Colorado Monday night, which officially ended their season.

Not only did their all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman, blow his second consecutive save opportunity — giving up three runs in the final inning — but the game-winning run didn't actually score.

Replays showed that the Rockies' Matt Holliday didn't touch the plate after diving in headfirst to send Coors Field's spectators into a Rocky Mountain frenzy. As Padres catcher Michael Barrett, who originally dropped the ball on the throw from right fielder Brian Giles, moved to tag the lying-face-down Holliday, home plate umpire Tim McClelland made a delayed safe call.

Game over. Rockies fly to Philly. Padres go home.

San Diego fans, however, have no beef this morning. The safe call was justice for a Rockies team that had to play four more innings than it should have. That's because another call was blown way back in the bottom of the seventh inning.

With Colorado leading 6-5, Garrett Atkins blasted a fly ball to deep left field which appeared — thanks to numerous slow-motion replays — to sail above the fence then ricochet off a wheelchair and back onto the field. The umpires failed to originally rule the hit a home run, and a few minutes of deliberation didn't change their minds. San Diego got out of the inning unscathed and tied the the score 6-6 an inning later.

The final score should have been 7-6 Colorado in nine innings. The Rockies shouldn't have had to use 10 pitchers in the winner-take-all-playoff less than 40 hours before Wednesday's first round game at Philadelphia.

Which is why I suggest for upcoming seasons a replay review system.

This would be nothing like the system used by the NFL or college football. You wouldn't see Joe Torre throwing a red flag out of the dugout (as much as he'd enjoy that, I'm sure). What I suggest is a system similar to the one used in the NBA, in which buzzer-beating shots are reviewed as well as 3-pointers that like like they might be 2-pointers.

I don't advocate reviewing balls and strikes or close plays at first base. The only plays that should be reviewed are those like the home run Monday and the final play at the plate Monday:

— Umpires can review any fly ball that is a borderline home run.

— Umpires can review whether a fly ball down a foul line landed fair or foul.

— Umpires can review any close play at home plate that ends a game.

— Reviews are asked for by the substitute umpire present at every game.

Those are three instances that happen very rarely. The majority of games will happen without an umpire review. The games will not be significantly lengthened.

But players — not to mention, teams — won't be robbed of home runs by umpires who are several hundred feet away from the fence, and games won't end on a missed call by the home plate umpire.

I know that umpires are very proud men who dislike being questioned. It seems that with each passing year their tolerance for players arguing with them lessens. They won't be in favor of an instant replay system.

But a system as suggested above wouldn't take the game out of the umpires' hands. Still 99.99 percent of the calls would be at their discretion, and reviewed plays wouldn't be instigated by managers, but rather by the substitute umpire.

Thankfully on Monday it was an eye for an eye. The Rockies got robbed, only to have their merchandise returned to them.

But what would people be saying right now had Hoffman not blown the save? I'm sure people in Colorado would be complaining about the missed call instead of celebrating the Rockies' first playoff appearance since 1995.

All that's needed is a small fix.

1 comment:

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