Here We Go Again With The Instant Replay Debate

Okay, we all know what went down in Cleveland three nights ago with the home run/double call. Once again, this call caused another black eye on all umpires. The instant replay debate had been started up again on ESPN yesterday because the Miami Heat had an off day so there was nothing else to talk about. A lot of questions arose after this controversial play in Cleveland. Should they resume the game from that point of the missed call? Will replay be used on every call now? Why does Angel Hernandez wear a snap back umpire hat? These are all valid questions.

The instant replay debate will probably never end. Get comfortable. Image: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As a college baseball umpire, I have always supported the human element of the sport and I have never been on board with any form of instant replay. I’m still not. There is already too much grey area in the review process. Some things are reviewable, some aren’t. Where does it stop? Don’t get me wrong, I love Bob Brenly, but he is so anti-umpire sometimes that it makes me mad. Bert can’t even name the umpiring crew without getting some sort of groan from BB. Although Bob is tongue in cheek (I think) when he suggests robot umpires, some people actually support the idea. Missed calls are going to happen. That’s just the nature of the game. Players miss fly balls all the time, why can’t an umpire miss a safe/out call? Some people have said that Angel Hernandez did not overturn the call because he doesn’t support instant replay. Okay, but now he looks like an idiot, so that probably wasn’t the best way to handle it. Hernandez’ proverbial “screw you” to the league offices didn’t work too well. Eliminating any replay will also make umpires better at what they do. It has to.

While I realize that more instant replay will likely be added next year (maybe even this year), I think more problems will arise. Where do we draw the line of what can be reviewed? Going back to Bob Brenly, he suggested a review for the play last night that brought Goldy of the bag and umpire Vic Carapazza called Delmon Young safe. I actually think Carapazza made the right call on that play. Don’t tell Bob Brenly I said that, though. I think it is ridiculous to have replay of plays like that. Why even have an umpire in the first place? Let’s be honest, a lot of people don’t like umpires because they are never hitting walk off homers or throwing perfect games. It’s a fairly non-glamorous job that people are quickly losing respect for. The more instant replay we have, the less umpires are needed. How long until umpires become obsolete completely? This idea scares me because I support the profession of umpires and I take pride in what I do. I know that the MLB umpires feel the same way.

Finally, the instant replay idea is so difficult because it’s hard to draw a line in the sand and say these are the things that are reviewable, and these things aren’t. Pretty soon, replay will be available on bang-bang plays at first and who’s knows what else? To eliminate any grey area and discrepancies in replay, the best solution is no not have any at all. Let baseball play itself out and stop trying to eliminate the human element. The day a robot starts calling balls and strikes is the day I stop watching baseball.

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  • Tom Lynch

    Christian, that was a great article. I am with you 100%. I have said either you replay everything close or replay nothing. I wish it would just go away.

  • Jeremy Dougherty

    I agree. Totally against instant relay, it’s just opening a bag of problems. And if so many people already complain that baseball is “too long” its just going to get longer and longer if there are replay delays at things like plays at first which happen all game long. Having our team get a call that maybe could have gone the other way is part of the game, as it is in any other sport. Keep the humans, keep computers out of it. I can’t imagine watching baseball one day and not seeing the man in black standing behind Miggy. It just wouldn’t be baseball. Umpires are human, until it’s proven they are throwing the game I’m taking their mistakes as human error, something we all do in our own professions. It’s part of life.