Saturday, December 20th, 2014

I Just Fixed Baseball and Instant Replay — Was That So Hard?

18

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.

  • Paul

    Ok wait, so I love baseball but its not a fast sport as it stands now, you really think the “instant replay” wont cause more harm than good? HAHA

  • Cooper

    It’s like the steroid issue bud selig likes to look the other way and make excuses instead of being proactive and letting MLB progress.

  • http://kristopherwilson.com Kristopher

    You’re not thinking this through rationally; it’s not as simple as that.

    Sure, challenge system for fair/foul and out/safe.

    What happens when the call is overruled? Where do the base runners go? How do you decide if the runner would have made it to 2nd or 3rd base if the ball had been called foul?

    You could simply institute a one base rule and say that’s that, but what if it’s a ball all the way down a foul line where the base runner easily could’ve made it two bases or more?

  • Brandon

    So lets say the Tigers already challenged a play earlier in the game…what happens now? Guess what…Gallaraga still loses his perfect game.

    You are oversimplifying the problem. I agree that a simple fix can be implemented, but its not as simple as “you get 1 challenge per game” and thats it. Even the NFLs fairly simple replay solution has its issues.

  • Cesar

    I like your idea for fixing it, but Epstein is right-Galarraga can’t be retroactively awarded his perfect game. It’s sad, but he’s right. The perfect game would have occurred before any new replay system is enacted. Everyone would know it was the impetus for the change, but you can’t go just changing something even though the ump admitted his mistake because, where does it stop?

    Also, baseball stadiums should install the HawksEye or whatever it is that they use in tennis. Each player can challenge three times, and they look at it for about five seconds, done and done. This would work wonders in baseball.

  • ghoti

    This incident is just more proof that baseball is lost in the 20th century. They want us to believe we still live in the era of Ruth, DiMaggio and Aaron. Replays don’t exist.

    Now, the hidebound nature of MLB does have some advantages. No aluminum bats, for instance.

    But it’s a spectator sport. Give the people what they want. Everybody wants Galarraga to have the perfect game he deserves. They also want to be sure that good calls are being made. A replay will not just correct bad calls, it will encourage umpires to be a little better.

  • http://zonersports.com The Zoner

    Hey Brandon- That could easily be fixed by making the 9th inning challenges also at the umps discretion, like NFL in the last 2 minutes of the game.

    Cesar you said, “I like your idea for fixing it, but Epstein is right-Galarraga can’t be retroactively awarded his perfect game. It’s sad, but he’s right. The perfect game would have occurred before any new replay system is enacted.” If that were to be the last and only type of change because replay was then enacted, it could have been changed. If they can wipe out the White Sox of 1919 and take away wins in NCAA sports,surely they can give Galarraga his perfect game.

  • Anon

    I fail to see why so many people want instant replay implemented in baseball. As stated before there is no simple way to determine what would happen if a play is overturned as it is in football. Basketball and hockey have instant replay as well and it is very similar to that of baseball’s home run reviews. In basketball they only use the instant replay to check if a shot was taken before the clock expired and in hockey they only check for questionable goals (like questionable homeruns) after play is stopped. The instant replay system put into place for baseball is sufficient for what they need. It is very unfortunate that Galarraga was denied a perfect game but thats part of baseball. The human element is what makes the game what it is. They use human pitchers, who don’t hit the right spot all the time, and humans take the at bats and field and guess what they make errors. So why would we take the human element away from officiating the game? Umpires are human as well and make mistakes and thats just a part of the game and a part of life. So I still fail to see how any argument for instant replay has any legs to stand on. The game is long enough as it is so just let them play the game and be done with it. I think baseball should worry about addressing the salary disparity among teams way before it even thinks about turning its attention to instant replay.

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  • Hector

    if they can put an asterisk next to roger maris 61 home runs, they can give galarraga a perfect game

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  • http://sportschump.net Chris Humpherys

    Wishful thinking on all of our parts, huh, man?

  • http://www.hghtruth.org/ RT

    Just because you don’t understand how much thought and strategy goes into every pitch of every game doesn’t mean it is there. Some people enjoy games where you outsmart your opponent rather than hit them really hard. In fact, I find games where you ONLY rely on physical ability to be pretty damn boring. Things like foot races, lifting, and things like that. You don’t like thinking? Fine. But you don’t have to go about bragging about it.

  • http://www.oneworldtosee.com/ Zambia

    Why even bother giving managers a challenge? Make it even simpler and leave it up to the discretion of the umpires. This way managers could certainly suggest the play be reviewed but it would be up to the umpiring crew to make the final call. There is not an umpire in that crew would have said no to reviewing the tape for that play. Period.

  • http://www.sportscapperisland.com Tommy sports picks

    I agree with the no replay. Umpires are part of the game. If you implent and get carried away with more replay rules, then it will eventually come down to reviewing balls and strikes, which is absurd. You mind as well have the same umpiring crew doing the same games, in the same positions, everyday. Some pitchers are definitely effected by certain umpires, good and bad. I like the human element. A pitchers performance and games decided should remain the same. A perfect game comes down to more than just hits, walks and errors. Weather, umpires and many more elements decides a perfect game.

  • http://yellowbizz.com Eros Frometa

    I am very happy for Armando Galarraga… We all know that he deserves to have that perfect game… He might not have the chance to get another one… Baseball still have to do many changes to the rules but they must be done before the season begins… So every play can be fare…

  • AJ DiFucci

    Anyone know where the instant replay rule is actually written down? I’ve looked in Official Rukes Of MLB and can’t find any reference whatsoever

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