I Just Fixed Baseball and Instant Replay — Was That So Hard?
Major League Baseball is like most old, cemented corporations: slow to act, wary of change and quicksand-stuck in its ways. What a shame. MLB had a chance to climb out of the cave when Jim Joyce’s egregious error nullified Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. But they didn’t, and we are bound to see something like this happen again.
Phil Rogers’ latest column discusses how many of baseball’s top officials don’t want to enact change, and Rogers is right there in agreement with the archaic thought that replay would hurt baseball. Many of baseball’s top brass said that Galarraga should not have been awarded the perfect game by commissioner Bud Selig. Theo Epstein is in that camp.
“I don’t see how baseball can let that happen,” Epstein said. “Then every time a team loses a game on a blown call, there’s going to be no good reason why that can’t be overturned as well. It’s a slippery slope. It would fundamentally change the nature of the game. I don’t think you can do that, unfortunately.”
Speaking of fundamentally changing the game, wasn’t it just a few years back that Epstein paid about $50 million dollars just for the right to bid on the services of Daisuke Matsuzaka? That fundamentally changed the game, no? I suppose when it’s not Epstein’s player or the Red Sox’ money at stake then “fundamental changes” are of the utmost importance.
But not every change or action taken by baseball has to be such a drawn out, tedious chore. The failure by MLB to respond to issues in baseball’s past has been tremendously injurious to the game and the fans — racial barriers, labor agreements, steroid scandals, drugs in the 80′s and owner collusion — to name just a few. It’s really not all that difficult. Here’s all MLB had to do to fix the whole mess.
For starters, Bud Selig calls a press conference to announce that MLB is indeed awarding Galarraga his perfect game. Galarraga is there along side and Selig presents him with some sort of plaque. Maybe they could play the awesome music from “This Week in Baseball”. Then Selig announces that effective immediately MLB has instituted a new instant replay challenge system (new to them anyway) that allows managers one chance per game to challenge a fair/foul call or an out/safe call. No balls and strikes calls can be challenged.
Selig then announces that after the season MLB will convene to implement changes to the system if need be. Boom — we’re done here. Was that so hard?
The “slippery slope” that MLB and its officials are so afraid of never makes it out of the shed. There is no chance for further repercussion, nor travesties like ruined perfect games, because they actually stepped up and surgically removed the problem rather than let it fester and grow until the pain is too much to take.
MLB was also long-suffering in its refusal to enact instant replay on home run calls. Now? I haven’t read of any GM or manager that isn’t pleased with the results. They have, however, simply adapted their preferred reason for adding more replay. From Rogers’ column:
Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes baseball is getting it right by using replay only on questionable home run calls.
“There are too many plays that are close that would possibly be up for review,” Scioscia said. “It could become dysfunctional if you put it in any more than this.”
This would actually increase excitement for fans. Have you ever watched a football game after the coach throws the red flag on the field for the challenge? The ref comes out to midfield, turns his mic on and says, “The Bears are challenging the call on the field.” The place erupts! It generates electricity throughout the stadium and some of that fun tension that fans love to feel. Oh, and it can actually right a wrong.
My mother used to tell me that if you have a problem in life that you should just “chew it up and spit it out.” Pretty solid advice. Why can’t baseball do this? Why do they let everything linger until it has become too problematic? Bud Selig needs to actually lead for once and get baseball into the new millennium already.