Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Commissioner Bud Selig, the highest member of baseball's hierarchy, hasn't exactly gone out of his way to support instant replay. In most fields of endeavor, politics and religion notwithstanding, "getting it right" becomes a priority not interference.

But not baseball. Baseball finds error romantic. Don Denkinger, author of the blown call at first base in the 1985 World Series doesn't like being remembered mostly for a series changing call. Jim Joyce's blown call cost Armando Galarraga a chance at baseball immortality by taking away his no-hitter last year. And last night the Pirates lost when Jerry Meals spit the bit on a scoring play in the 19th inning. Baseball acknowledged the blown call.

Baseball occasionally reverses itself. George Brett's home run in the 1983 "pine tar" game was protested and reinstated. And if replay can't be justified and human error adds pastoral value to the game, then why did baseball opt for replays for home runs?

Baseball will eventually follow the technological revolution further, to other boundary calls (e.g. fair/foul), and potentially have a smorgasbord of calls to review:

  • Boundary calls
  • Catch/trap
  • Safe/out on tags or "ball beats runner"
  • Foul tip into the dirt, strikeout or foul ball
  • Hit by pitch 
  • Running lane interference (to first base)
Ideally, baseball will introduce a limited challenge approach analogous to football, with the same "indisputable evidence" rules. Yes, I know that certain 'fixtures' in the game, like Peter Gammons will argue for the status quo. But at the end of the day, getting the call right has meaning. It meant something to the Cardinals in 1985, to Galarraga last season, and who knows when it will mean something to local baseball fans?

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