Expanded Replay in Baseball: Fair or Foul?

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Since its implementation before the 2014 season, the use of expanded instant replay in Major League Baseball has been a highly controversial topic among players, coaches, executives, and fans. Up until this season, it had really only been used for boundary calls with homeruns, to determine if the ball was fair or foul. Now it has been expanded to bang-bang out/safe plays on the bases, traps and catches in the outfield, and fan interference.

Beginning this season, each manager will begin the game with one challenge. If the manager challenges a play and wins it, he gets a second challenge. If he loses, the only way any play is reviewable afterward is through an umpire’s decision to review it. Another factor that comes into play: if either team does not have a challenge left before the seventh inning, the umpires have to instigate the review. That means if both teams are out of challenges, they are at the mercy of the umpires for the last three innings. If a play is challenged or reviewed, it is looked at in a headquarters in New York.

Overall, this seems like a great concept, right? Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig supports that replay is used to make sure that they get the call right; but it has done much more than just that. It has intimidated umpires to where they’re afraid to make a call on a close play for fear of it being overturned. Also, when a manger comes out to argue a call, the umpire can’t say “well that’s the way I saw it” because it was overturned on replay. What is a manager supposed to do in that situation?

I personally like to see managers come out and give the umpires a piece of their mind after a blown call. Anything from the Buck Showalter peace talks to the Lou Piniella screaming and kicking dirt rants. I do think that blown calls are part of the game because there is the element of human error in the officiating. That sounds bad, but humans aren’t perfect. Blown calls prompt a manager coming out to argue, and sometimes leading to ejection. For some fans, it’s another aspect of the game that fires them up.

In conclusion, instant replay can be a good thing in some sports, but I don’t believe it belongs in baseball. It takes away from the umpires because now they can’t fully do their job without someone looking over their shoulder from New York. They’re intimidated by the system, and managers really only support it when the call favors their team. This system is bad for the game, and the 2014 season will prove it.

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