On the day after what many are calling the worst officiating call in the history of sports, many are calling for instant replay in baseball. Let’s get some things out of the way first:
- Yes the umpire blew the call, he even admitted to it afterwards
- Calls are blown every single game, probably every single inning
- Instant replay could be beneficial to the game of baseball
- Instant replay would not have saved Armando Galarraga’s Perfect Game
Yeah, that’s right, you heard me correctly. Instant replay would not have saved Armando Galarraga’s Perfect Game! Umpires are human, they all make mistakes, every single game balls are called strikes and vice versa. Phantom tags are recorded as outs and yes, even perfectly clear force outs sometimes go unnoticed.
Why is Replay Available in the First Place?
So before we go around saying that instant replay would have saved this perfect game, lets think about what instant replay is really used for. Instant replay, which regularly used in the NFL and every now and then in the NBA, is intended to challenge officiating calls that might have an impact on the result of the game. The final score of the game last night was 3-0, and I know…anything can happen in a baseball game and a 3 run cushion is hardly insurmountable, but in reality, the missed call did not have an effect on the outcome of the game. Sure, it had an effect on the outcome of an individual’s shot at a historic milestone.
Replay is for Score Changing Outcomes – Not Personal Records
Let’s try out this scenario. In the final game of the season, Tom Brady is one touchdown shy of breaking the single season record for touchdown passes in a game. With less than a minute left in the game, the Patriots are comfortably ahead. On 4th and long, to keep the game going, Tom Brady throws to an open Randy Moss streaking down the sideline. TOUCHDOWN! But wait, the officials call it back saying that Moss stepped out of bounds. Do you think that a coach should use a challenge to dispute the call, even with the game clearly in the bag? No, because the plight of the team is always greater than the plight of the individual.
Missed Calls are a Part of the Game – Like it or Not
Let’s talk a little more about missed calls. Like I said before, they happen a lot because umpires are human. If this call had been missed in the first inning, do you think it would have been blown out of proportion like this? Sure, it still would have been a bad call, but the perceived impact of it would have been much lower. What about missed balls and strikes? If you think this doesn’t make a difference, ask any hitter if they would prefer to bat with a 3-1 count or a 2-2 count and tell me that missed balls and strikes don’t count.
Instant Replay can be a Detriment to Officiating
I’m not defending anyone, any call, or any particular viewpoint on replay – all I’m saying is that a blown call after 8 and 2/3rds innings of perfect baseball does not make the argument for instant replay any more compelling. In order to get instant replay in baseball (for those who really want it), concrete arguments must be made about how it will improve the quality of play for the MLB. I’m of the opinion that it actually lowers the quality of officiating in the NFL. Referees are more likely to let a play “run its course” and have a coach challenge it later than to blow it dead. Besides, having an instant replay option would slow down a game that is already making molasses on a winter’s day look like Usain Bolt.