Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Perfect" reason for expanding replay in MLB

Baseball purists have successfully delayed the use of video replay technology for a very long time. Arguing that the tradition of making all calls visually by the field umpires is the only way to go, a seemingly increasing number of blown calls have pressured the MLB to begin adopting video replay to help minimize inherent human errors.

In 2008, the MLB begin using video reply for the following calls:
Home run calls (fair or foul)
Whether the ball actually left the playing field
Whether the ball was subject to spectator interference

This obviously doesn't cover every single call, but there is a point of diminishing return on the use of replay. However, there are still some more calls that we think warrant the use of the technology. On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga pitched what should have been called a perfect game for the Detroit Tigers. However, on what appeared to be the last out, the umpire called the runner safe at first base. Even the runner and his teammates thought the game was over. Replays from every available angle clearly show the defensive player had his foot on first base and the ball in his glove well before the runner reached the base. So instead of having the third perfect game thrown in 2010 (and only the 21st EVER), Galarraga continued to pitch until the final out was made.

As you may well know, baseball fans are obsessed with statistics and records. So we'd have to believe even the most traditional fans think it's a shame that such a brilliant performance be left from the record books due to a blown call. Certain calls are meant to be subjective, such as strikes and balls; and it's an enjoyable part of the game to watch how the players must make minor adjustments based on who's behind the plate that day. But other calls should be black and white (i.e., a player either reaches a base safely, or is out), and these are the types of calls that should subject to video replay.

On a somewhat unrelated note, Galarraga handled the situation like a champ. He just grinned at the bad call, and went right back to work, pitching the remainder of a shutout. Many other players would've acted like a two year old and thrown a tantrum; many others would've lost the mental focus required to perform at a high level. So hats off to you, Armando - not only for a terrific pitching performance, but for simply respecting an umpire's (incorrect) call, and showing some real class.

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