I remember having a debate with my uncle about a year or so ago. My old uncle Alex is a lifelong baseball fan and a consummate purist, a stark contrast to his otherwise sensible nature.
Arguing with him about whether baseball should expand its use of instant replay was like talking to a wall. No matter how logically one presented an argument, he’d retort with the same tired excuse that human error is and has always been an inherent part of the game. We used to have public executions and no polio vaccine in this country as well. Over time institutions evolve, just not those called Major League Baseball.
Happily, an announcement came from the ever-modernizing office of Bud Selig that dinosaurs are one step closer to extinction. Next season, baseball is going to expand its use of instant replay by allowing managers to challenge questionable calls, a rule the NFL adopted ten years ago. Congratulations, baseball. It only took you a decade to get with the program. Electricity in locker rooms will soon follow.
Assuming the vote is passed this coming November, this will be good news for the sport and shouldn’t be viewed any differently. Not only will more calls be made correctly, and umpires held more accountable for their actions, the challenge system will add an entirely new dynamic to the sport.
If and when this goes into effect, managers will get one challenge within the first six innings and two more for the later innings. Just like NFL coaches, managers must apportion these challenges wisely. Challenged calls will be reviewed by the league office in New York City, I’m guessing instantaneously. One can only assume this will take minutes but then again we’re talking Major League Baseball here. Anything is possible.
If implemented properly, baseball’s new challenge system should go off without a hitch. There’s no reason baseball shouldn’t get this right on the first try. We’re not talking brain surgery here. The NBA, NFL and even tennis have all effectively implemented instant replay to ensure the correct call is made. Precedent has been set. It’s unfortunate that nobody wearing a baseball cap was paying attention.
Hey, at least the sport is making progress. The commissioner should be commended (says SportsChump clenching his teeth) for finally getting this on the docket, although it had probably been buried under a pile of papers on his desk for years.
For so many reasons, our national pastime has lost its relevance. From drug use and escalating salaries to work stoppages and a cancelled World Series, Bud Selig’s tenure has seen baseball take a giant step backwards. Instant replay is a small step in the right direction. Fans should embrace that change. Trust me, the sport needs it.