faceoff: should baseball have waited until next season to implement instant replay?

Let's go to the tape

August 29, 2008|By CHILDS WALKER

Too often in this life, we ignore chances to make modest improvements because we're waiting for the perfect solution. I'm glad baseball didn't make that mistake with instant replay.

Instead, commissioner Bud Selig implemented limited replay as soon as he reached agreements with his players and umpires. If the technology saves even one blown call down the stretch this season, it was worth it.

Some baseball men felt replay was introduced hastily. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said that if technological kinks haven't been worked out, "they are going to set themselves up for some embarrassing situations."

He could be right. We won't know until we see the system in use.

But Trembley's worries strike me as a hypothetical layered onto another hypothetical.

For one, the technology involved doesn't seem that complex. The country's other major leagues use video replay without many snafus. From watching thousands of games on television, we know it's usually pretty clear on tape whether a home run has gone fair or foul.

And frankly, how many home runs are borderline, either in clearing the fence or sneaking inside the foul pole? We're not talking about the NFL, in which replay calls bring delays to almost every game.

This is more like NBA replay, which helps the officials tell if a buzzer-beater has, in fact, beaten the buzzer. Such shots aren't the norm, and the tape tends to offer a clear answer when they do occur. So we don't hear too much sound and fury about replay.

In baseball, most playoff series pass without a single controversial home run call. And if a backup system can prevent a freak play such as the Jeffrey Maier-touched home run that put the Orioles in a 1996 playoff hole, well, you won't hear me complaining.

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