Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baseball Instant Replay Needs to go to the Challenge Flag Rule

Baseball instant replay is a perfect complement to the game itself. With so many calls being made every game that either require split second decisions or inch by inch judgments being made from hundreds of feet away, baseball is begging for expanded instant replay.  Get the challenge flags ready.

We were watching Game 4 of the Yankees and Rangers ALCS when two unbelievable calls were made on back-to-back hitters. First Robinson Cano hit a deep fly ball into right field at the NEW Yankee Stadium. As the Texas Rangers’ Rightfielder, Nelson Cruz, was jumping up to catch the ball, a couple of Yankees fans reached over the wall and interfered with Cruz. They did’nt touch the ball, but interfered with Cruz’s glove in such a way that he couldn’t make the catch. As soon as I saw it I started pointing at the TV and yelling “Jeffrey Maier, Jeffrey Maier” Why weren’t they using instant replay on this call? Isn’t this one of the reasons why instant replay was introduced – to decide if a home run was caused by fan interference?

“Who’s Jeffrey Maier?” my 6 year old asked. “Is he someone you work with?”

“How do you know that guy. It looked like he gave people the finger” my 8 year old asked quizzically. I then started to explain about an identical play that happened in the 1996 ALDS where the lowly Orioles were on their way to victory when a Derek Jeter (Interesting that Derek Jeter is involved in every controversial call – maybe I’m too hard on ARod…) fly ball was caught by Maier as he reached his glove out into the field and gave the Yankees a home run, the lead in Game 1, and ultimately the ALDS win. Not surprisingly my 8 year old was stunned that the Orioles were ever in the playoffs.

As I was explaining the Jeffrey Maier “non-home run,” Lance Berkman launched a drive down the Right Field line. Despite the fact that the playoff games include about 15 umpires, they still got the call wrong. I think I was scaring everyone when I yelled at the TV “That was foul! Christ!”

After giving each of my sons a quarter for swearing, I noticed that the umpires were actually going to look at this home run on instant replay. Thank God because that was at least three feet foul and there was no question that it wasn’t high enough to be OVER the foul pole. After weighing the options of getting the call right and being pelted with batteries and beer bottles by the Yankees’ fans, the umpires finally emerged from the dugout area and called the Berkman shot a foul ball. At least they got one call right. Although I have to wonder, the same umpire called both Cano’s and Berkman’s home runs. I didn’t explain to anyone what I was thinking at that moment.

But as I was explaining what I thought the rule was to the boys, I was asked why they didn’t look at out calls and strikes. I then started wondering what the rule really is.

According to Major League Baseball, In 2008, instant replay was introduced to look at three things: fair or foul home runs, whether the ball actually left the playing field and whether the ball was subject to spectator interference.

Wasn’t the Robinson Cano Home Run at least subject to review under these rules? Why didn’t they review it?

When introduced in August 2008 (nice of Bud Selig to change the rules midway through the season), Selig stated that video technology had improved to the point that instant replay would be helpful in limited circumstances. Selig must have turned on his TV one day and wondered aloud what “Blue Ray,” “HDTV” and “DVR” all meant, finally figuring out that he didn’t need to review grainy video tapes anymore. I guess he hadn’t realized that digital and HD cameras have been around for several years and may actually improve the game.

Ever since then, numerous calls have been overturned, leading to correct calls ultimately being made. But is the current instant replay rule in baseball enough? Numerous calls that would otherwise be reviewed would not be reviewed because of the Limited Instant Replay Rule. I think baseball instant replay would be more meaningful if they created a challenge rule similar to the NFL. Each Manager gets two replay challenges per game. They each receive an additional challenge if the game goes into extra innings. I guess until that happens, I’ll keep yelling at my TV.

Visit my baseball calls that would have benefited from instant replay page at Squidoo.

Photographs courtesy of Newark Star Ledger and Fanhouse.

No comments:

Post a Comment