Upon further review, baseball may want to take a second look at its new replay system. Bud Selig called it a historic moment Thursday when Major League Baseball announced plans to expand its video review process, pending approval from owners, players and umpires.
But after years of missed calls that are easily correctable, the replay committee made a boneheaded mistake by following in the footsteps of the NFL instead of the NCAA — and I wish I could throw a red flag at them.
I don’t think many football fans would argue that the replay rules in place for college football are superior to those of the NFL.
In college games, a replay official reviews every play and if he sees something that may not have been right, he buzzes the refs on the field to pause the game.
In the NFL, head coaches are given two challenges per game, three if they get both right. If your team is aggrieved more than that or you’re out of timeouts, you’re out of luck. Oh, and coaches throw out silly little red flags to signal they’re challenging a play.
In the new MLB proposal, managers are given one challenge for use over the first six innings and two challenges for all innings thereafter. It more closely mirrors the NFL than other, more sensible replay systems.
Why limit the number of challenges a team has? Is baseball that arrogant to believe its officials will never make more than six mistakes a game?
Limiting the number of challenges will force managers to second-guess the use of a challenge early in a game and it’s easy to conjure up scenarios where this could greatly affect the outcome of a game.
Most baffling is the decision to divide the challenges by arbitrary innings. What makes the seventh, eighth and ninth innings more important than the first six? Runs scored in each of those innings still count the same, last I checked.
Given that baseball games have an indefinite length, choosing to allot challenges to certain periods of the game is illogical, and merely plays into my original point that there should be no challenges from managers, only a replay official.
Major League Baseball was the last major U.S. sport to adopt replay when it allowed the review of home runs in 2008. Even before then, many fans have begged for a system that can eradicate bad calls, but purists claimed baseball needed to protect the human element and also keep games from finishing after 11 p.m.
As for the human element; it’s 2013 and there is little in the world that can’t be improved by a little technology.
As for the time element; it’s baseball — it’s already a long slog. (As an Astros fan I’m finding out just how long games are in the American League, yeesh.) Is another couple minutes going to make a big difference on a 200-minute game? Baseball calls are typically easy to discern with replay, as there usually aren’t half a dozen bodies around the play in question.
The point is getting the calls right, not creating a game within a game where managers are more worried about whether to challenge a call than whether to steal second.
While I applaud baseball for doing something — this system sure beats what we’ve had the last hundred years — I just wish they had taken a more common-sense approach to instant replay.