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Rick Moran

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April 14, 2014 - 4:25 pm
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As a conservative, a traditionalist, and a baseball fan for 55 years, I can say that I hate instant replay. I used to hate the designated hitter but eventually, grudgingly, accepted it so chances are pretty good about 30 years from now, I’ll get used to the game being taken out of the hands of flawed, mistake-prone umpires and placed in the hands of technology.

I always saw mistakes made by the umps as simply the “rub-o-the-green” — thems the breaks, boys and over 162 games, the bad calls tend to even themselves out. But the powers that be in baseball didn’t quite see it like that, so they built a huge “war room” in New York — the Replay Operations Center — with dozens of TV feeds for league officials to view a play and make the right call.

I am probably a little more gleeful than I should be when I report that the plot to destroy baseball via replay is not going according to plan. In fact, at this rate, the fans will be screaming for the wires to be ripped out of the ROC and by mid-season, the league go back to relying on human beings to make the right call.

Fox Sports:

I can tolerate the growing pains of expanded replay, the flaws in the challenge system, the awkward delays as managers decide whether to seek reviews, the debates over what constitutes a proper transfer, a proper catch.

But no one should tolerate calls that are blatantly incorrect after review — not now, not with a system that supposedly was designed to help baseball avoid egregious mistakes.

Something is terribly wrong when television viewers are getting better access to conclusive angles than the umpires at the $30 million Replay Operations Center in New York. And it happened twice Saturday, first in a game between the Yankees and Red Sox, then in one between the Braves and Nationals.

If it’s any consolation to Red Sox manager John Farrell, I spent Sunday trying to get a better explanation for Anna-gate from Major League Baseball, and none was forthcoming.

Farrell became the first manager to receive an automatic ejection for arguing a replay decision later that night, contending that the out call on the Yankees’ Francisco Cervelli at first base should not have been overturned because the replays were inconclusive.

The essence of Farrell’s argument is that the ball needed simply to enter first baseman Mike Napoli’s glove, not hit the back of it. The confusion alone over what qualifies as an out is embarrassing to baseball, but Farrell would not have been nearly as hot if not for the shenanigans of the day before.

Clearly, Farrell was still seething over the missed call Saturday — the one in which replay conclusively showed the Yankees’ Dean Anna had his foot off second base when he was tagged by Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts with one out in the eighth inning.

At least, the replay on FOX Sports 1 and other networks broadcasting the game conclusively showed that. No one is quite sure what the umpires at the Replay Operations Center were quite watching, but evidently their 12 feeds were not good enough.

The promise of this expanded replay was that it would be quick (90 seconds or less), and the calls would finally be correct. But, like football replay which came in making the same promises, the reality is quite different. What we found with replays in football was that even multiple angles and several minutes of examining tape, there were many inconclusive outcomes. The standard of “incontrovertible proof” necessary to overturn a call is, after all, arbitrary, and you end up adding a human element anyway.

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All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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You are no conservative.....and Professional Major League Baseball has been beneath my contempt since the First Players Strike....

It is a Game, not a sport.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The first problem with replay review is that managers and players are getting along with umpires like best friends. This is disgusting. Like going to a hockey game and no fights break out.

Second, if you must subject us to baseball becoming a legalistic game, allow five seconds only to make a challenge. You are so sure you are right, make the challenge or shut up, you don't get to wait to watch super slow motion first.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
But baseball is NOT a legalistic game, and if they turn it into one, it won't be baseball anymore. The umpire may be a jackass, may need glasses, may not recognize a strike even if he could see it, but he is still the umpire.

The designated hitter, interleague play, ballparks cutting off beer sales after the seventh inning, and now this. Video review is just the latest abomination before the LORD. If we don't nip this in the bud, they'll institute a game clock next.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with Rick. It's a needless distraction. I'd also like to know what it costs to add this "feature" to the game.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

Geez, just a gosh-darned minute here. Have you been sleeping through the glory that is the Obama administrations ??? What if what they say they're doing isn't really what they're doing ???

Let's say, Major League Baseball gets viewers' eyes screwed to their digital telecommunications screens for another round or two of commercial messaging or gets fans' fannies screwed to their seats for another round or two of refreshments ??? Bad things ??? MLB sure wouldn't those to happen now would it ??? No, no, no. MLB is all about "sports fairness" and "umpire call inequality". Yeah, they are. It's their National Pastime they're improving, you know.

Forward !!!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like the legal profession, American sports will eventually 'rules' itself into a slow, tedious stagnation, to the point of being unwatchable. There can never be enough rules for the bureaucratic minded.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
rickl below captures my attitude regarding the recent updates to what used to be a simple game. Not easy, to be sure, but simple.

The problem I have with instant replay as it applies to baseball lies in the game's deep roots in American culture. When I was growing up, there was Little League, of course, but like as not, there was a pickup game going on somewhere, too. We organized ourselves, played by sometimes modified rules (depending on how many players we actually had), used whatever equipment was to hand, and generally fended for ourselves. Somebody was designated as umpire, if we had enough, and for the most part everybody abided by his decisions. It was a great and oft-repeated lesson in ... life.

Today, not so much. Little League is organized within an inch of its life, access to parks and ball diamonds is often limited, parents aghast at the notion that their little treasure might be outside doing they-know-not-what and might, gasp!, scrape a knee.

We learned early and often: the umpire is not always right, but he is always the umpire. That's his job. Of course he's fallible, but, as mentioned in the article, major league umpires do an amazingly good job.

George Will once described football as emphasizing the worst aspects of American culture: unrestrained violence punctuated by committee meetings. And so it does; football is a much more "legalistic" game. The nature of the game almost requires legal/illegal nitpicking, so video review makes perfect sense.

Baseball will rue the day. Video review in baseball is at odds with the nature of the game, and the lessons it teaches participants and fans alike. There are just some things that technology will never improve. A souffle. Sex. Baseball.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am not a baseball guy, so I leave that to others. But is there anyone here who would argue, as seems to be the case here, that replay is not serving football well?

Yes, when it first came out, there was no time-limitation on the replays, which was absurd, and easily addressed. Since then, I would say that it has worked very well.

Anyone got a problem wid' dat?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, I've got a huge problem wid' dat. Instant replay has ruined professional football. Constantly reviewing plays has turned what was once a fairly fast moving game into a slow, never ending grind with a never ending string of commercials. But of course the TV stations love it because of all the advertising revenue they can gain. You do know that that's really what it's all about, right?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Football replay made the referees tentative, which causes more reviews by itself. A sixty minute game, 74 with halftime and quarter breaks, is bleeding into three hours. A growing number of people who do watch football now will only watch when several games are on at once.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
A watch a lot of baseball, and I think instant replay is working well.

It doesn't add much time to the game (actually, it takes less time than a manger's splittle-filled tirade the ump, so it even adds a measure of civility and decorum), and I have only seen one call overturned. The umps do a good job overall, so that is what I expected - but it's a good thing to correct the occasional mistake.

I'm totally fine with it. And Rick Moran will be, too - when it's HIS team that gets screwed over in a playoff game because of a bad call.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't like instant replay, and I have never come to terms with the designated hitter. I will go to my grave believing that it is an abomination.

Then there is interleague play. I think it cheapens the World Series. It used to be that the teams who met in the World Series had never played each other during the season. More than most sports, baseball has been about tradition, but it seems like every tradition has been under attack in recent years.

Baseball is played by human beings who are fallible. Games are won or lost due to batting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning mistakes. Umpires are also human, and games can also turn on their mistakes. That's just the way it is, or rather, used to be.

If we're going with instant replay, why not go all the way and replace umpires with a system of lasers and computers that can tell to the hundredth of a second whether the runner or the ball got there first?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Also, I don't think interleague play makes sense when the two leagues have different rules (DH vs. non-DH). Either make the DH universal or abolish it altogether. Of course, I'd prefer to see it abolished.

MLB, I'll make you a deal: Get rid of the DH and I'll quit whining about interleague play.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why have umps at all?! Fire them and rely on the people in the ROC. Let's make sure that every single little thing in life is faaaaaaiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrr.

Ack!

I must admit I once got in trouble during a Little League game for offering an ump my glasses because he obviously needed them more than I did.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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