Is baseball safe? Check the replay
As every baseball fan knows, the problem with the sport is that it’s just too darned fast-paced. Something must be done to slow it down so that it’s easier to watch, whether one is sitting in the stands or viewing a game on television.
Thankfully, the brain trust that operates Major League Baseball has decided on just such a tactic.
Beginning next year, most calls on the field — a close play at first base, a base hit that looks like it might have gone foul, a tag out at home — will be subject to a review, according to a decision made by MLB owners last week.
Managers will be able to request reviews on two calls per game, but umpires may also call for reviews on their own. To ensure that the game proceeds at a stately pace, and doesn’t go carreening forward like some maddened box turtle, the review will then go to umpires in New York, who will view a video of the play in question and issue a final edict on the outcome.
It’s not specified in the news stories about the replay, but we assume the video-viewing umpires will be housed somewhere near Yankee Stadium, to ensure they are doing what’s best for the most important franchise in baseball, and not anywhere close to the lowly Mets.
These points we make with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
One of the big problems with baseball is that there is often time for viewers and outfielders to catch a nap as they await a pitcher to complete antics between throws. Balky batters, foul balls and pitching changes don’t exactly speed up the game.
The notion that far-from-instant replays will improve baseball is hard to fathom. Baseball has survived for more than 150 years without video umpires in New York reviewing plays.
We’re not big fans of instant replay in football or basketball, either. It occasionally proves its worth by correcting a bad call. But far more often, it just slows down the game. However, at least those sports move at a relatively brisk pace.
Human officials making split-second decisions on fast-moving plays will inevitably make mistakes. Unless we want technology to assume those duties — perhaps a hologram strike zone with a computer that never is wrong on balls and strikes — we should accept those human mistakes and play ball.