Should baseball institute instant replay for disputed calls on the field? The rash of missed or disputed home run calls this week has only intensified the argument for bringing baseball into the twenty-first century and more in-line with its football and hockey brethren. It isn’t a question of the abilities of the crew in blue; it takes unparalleled focus to handle an intense nine-inning contest that may last well over three hours. More so, the sole purpose would be to give umpires a fifth, unbiased view of the play to ensure that there would be little doubt left on the field.
Former Boston outfielder Gabe Kapler may be one major league player in favor of replay, as it may have added another home run to his career total if the technology was in use three years ago. Back on 10 August 2005, in an eventual 16-5 laugher over the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park, Kapler launched a pitch off Kenny Rogers towards the Monster Seats on top of the Green Monster. The ball hit the top of the wall above the home run line, bounced on the small ledge protruding from the wall, and then fell back into play as the crowd went crazy. However, third baseman Derryl Cousins ruled that the ball had not cleared the line and Kapler ended up standing on second. Arguments from the Red Sox bench did nothing except to get Trot Nixon, who was on the disabled list for Boston at the time, ejected from the game.
Baseball would be best served to follow a simple system that limits reviews only to select plays, like home runs and close plays at the plate; replays would not be instituted for balls and strikes. As in football, each team would be given two opportunities to ask for a video replay; for extra inning games, each team would be given an additional chance to call for a review. The purpose for the replay would be announced to the crowd and either the home plate umpire or the crew chief would have the responsibility of making the final call within a given time frame.
Will Bud Selig, the owners, and the players eventually reach an agreement to institute such a system? Most likely, there will be a few more on-field injustices to players and teams and unjust criticism levied on umpires before the obvious conclusion is reached.