Thursday, October 22, 2009

Instant replay must be expanded for MLB playoffs


Major League Baseball can't deny it — the game needs to expand its instant-replay system.

This postseason, by itself, has proven that.

During the past two weeks, there has been a plethora of badly missed calls. If you've watched the games with one eye, you know what I'm referring to.

All the umpires have been able to do is apologize. They can't dispute the calls, because, um, their mistakes have been obvious. For instance, the Twins' Joe Mauer hit a blooper down the left-field line in Game 2 of Minnesota's series against New York. The ball landed a good half foot inside the line, but, somehow, the foul-line umpire called it foul.

The call might have cost the Twins the game and a chance to make that series interesting.

That was the biggest goof, but there have been many others.

And they only illustrate the need for the expansion of instant replay.

At least in the postseason.

I'm not opposed to keeping the regular season as it stands. There are so many games, no team can legitimately take a blown call from one game, or even two, and say that it cost them a playoff spot (yes, I'm talking about this season's Tigers).

So keep the regular-season system as is. Review close home runs. Play the games.

But when it comes to the postseason, the system needs to be altered ASAP. There's no opposing argument.

The fix is simple. As many of the baseball sages have suggested, put an umpire in the press box with a TV. When he sees a call such as the Mauer one that's transparently wrong, he'll signal down to the field umpires in some fashion (um, this is the 21st century; I'm sure they can come up with something).

The call is reversed. Everyone is happy. (Well, maybe not the team that was the beneficiary of the bad call. But they won't feel so guilty about getting a break. ... Scratch that — they probably wouldn't feel guilty in the first place, but you get my drift.)

The point is, this is a simply fix. This isn't football, when some fumble-or-no-fumble reviews are so close, they take 5 minutes, 43 seconds (and seven beer commercials) to review.

No, baseball doesn't need to allow managers the ability to call for reviews, even though the comedy of Lou Piniella furiously throwing a red flag from the dugout would be hard to match.

For all the baseball purists out there, MLB shouldn't let managers be involved in the reviewing process. Rather, the ump in the box should have all the authority to overturn, not "review," any call that appears clearly incorrect. In other words, if they see a replay and know right away that the call on the field wasn't right, then overturn it.

If two replays don't show conclusive evidence, play on. And no, balls and strikes should never be reviewed regardless of how many pitches are called wrong — that's part of the game and always should be.

But there's no excuse to miss calls like the one in Game 4 of the Yankees-Angels ALCS series, when Mike Napoli clearly tagged out two Yankees by third base who weren't touching the bag. Innocently but very incorrectly, respected umpire Tim McClelland ruled that Robinson Cano had his foot on third base.

The first replay showed what I had thought when I saw the play live — Cano's foot was a good 6 inches from touching the rubber.

That could have been changed in a matter of a minute.

Nice and quick.

Postseason baseball games are long to begin with. What's the big difference between 3 hours, 35 minutes and 3 hours, 47 minutes? Twelve minutes, I believe, if my math is correct.

This is the 21st century, sports fans, and baseball hasn't been "pure" for a long time.

It's about time the league take the necessary measures to make sure all its postseason games are fairly decided.


Crazy Canton Cuts said...

I admit I am no fan of replay

I prefer human error

Kelly Twomey said...

This is something I think the NHL does very well. It doesn't add a whole lot of time to any game, and you're certain that they get the call right. If they do a good job of outlining what plays should and shouldn't be reviewed, and keep the managers out of it as you suggested, there's no reason not to do it. Not that MLB would do it even if it is the most sensible alternative.

But I have to admit, the idea of watching Lou Piniella taping a red flag to a Gatorade cooler and heaving it onto the field does somewhat appeal to me.