For those who have played baseball, it is a special game. Whether playing it, or watching it on television, it is a sight to behold. It takes a vast array of skills to be able to play, especially at the Major League level. That is why it can be aggravating to see a game decided by a bad call.
There have certainly been bad calls since the dawn of umpires, but there seems to be a growing number of them. Changes in technology, combined with HD precision viewing, have made the mistakes much clearer to see. Baseball instituted instant replay on home runs in 2008, but has been slow to expand it further. That will end in 2014, where anything except balls and strikes will be subject to review. Akin to the NFL system, managers will get three challenges and a flag to throw.
The question now becomes, is this what the game of baseball really needs? A majority of fans would say yes while some baseball purists will say that an occasional bad call is just part of the game. There is no debating that it will have an effect on the game, though. With that said, what are the pros and cons of this debate on instant replay in baseball.
On the pro side, no one wants to see a game decided by a blown call. Whether it is player, fan, or umpire, all want the game to be decided by the players on the field. That way, when a winner is declared, there is no looking back at a possible what if. Winning can have significant financial gains, as well, so no one wants to see money taken out of a person’s pocket because of a bad call.
The other pro is that it will possibly bring some accountability to the umpires. If a baseball player is not doing well, he can be cut or sent down to the minors. One of the big complaints from players has been that umpires face no real repercussions for blowing a call. With instant replay in tow, an umpire who makes consistently bad calls might face discipline because his errors are there for all to see.
There are also cons to this latest edict from Major League Baseball. One of the biggest complaints from viewers is the length and speed of the game. Evidently, the lack of continual action leads to a three plus hour bore fest for some. Now, add instant replay and challenge flags to the mix and it could be a recipe for longer games. That is something baseball does not need now.
Purists will complain that the game, in its truest form, is being defaced. For over a century, baseball has been played and umpired by human beings. There are good times and bad, but in the end, the human element always decided it. With the new system in place, the words judgment call could disappear. What would be next, mechanical umpires?
Finally, some will argue where the technology impetus into baseball will end. Right now, almost every call will be reviewable, except for balls and strikes. One has to wonder how long before that will be examined too. Baseball is a great game because it is not mechanical in nature. Hopefully, instant replay will be used only sparingly, so as to not upset the natural flow of the game.