Thursday, January 22, 2009

Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay

Nothing says "good morning" like a healthy dose of tersely written, clenched teeth Commish For A Day goodies. Many readers from here (and from ShysterBall) will recognize Mark Smith (aka tHeMARksMiTh) and his new site Way Back and Gone. Lifted from his site, Mark describes his new blog: Way Back and Gone is intended to be a blog dedicated to baseball history, but it will be occasionally transported to the present when the author, who is obnoxiously referring to himself in the third person, feels the need to rant about the Braves or another preposterous event in modern baseball.

Let's just say that Mark isn't a fan of Instant Replay (even though I am):

If I could change one thing, it would be instant replay.

One, we've gotten by without it for 100+ years, so there's no reason to get it now. Sure, we have the technology, but just because we have an atom bomb, it doesn't mean we should use it (a bit extreme, yes).

Two, the slippery slope applies. I doubt Selig will let it happen, but what about after him? Are we that obsessed about getting every call "right" that we have to move to having all calls be made electronically? Yes, home runs are more important than strikes and balls and safes and outs, but I guarantee many more mistakes are made on the latter to more than make up for the value discrepancy. If you argue for using IR because of the value of home runs, then you need it for the rest because they add up, too. It may not be used a lot now to make a difference, but it won't be too long before it becomes more ubiquitous. What happens when a Red Sox/Yankee/Met/Cub (or now that IR has begun, any team) is involved in a Holliday-like slide in the playoffs?

Three, we just overreacted. Delgado and ARod had their home runs taken away, and we got upset. I bet they've gotten a few lucky bounces that padded their stat sheets, so I'm not too worried. We talk about all the nooks and crannies in stadiums, but what about when the fences were pushed back farther, making it harder to see? I bet they missed a few then as well. If the umps get it all right, then we're left to blame our team when they lose.Four, it may not always work out. The NFL has IR, and they still screwed up calls (see Ed Hochuli). You're telling me that all plays will be conclusive when we look at it? So far so good, but will it always stay that way? There will be problems and missed calls regardless. It's part of the game.

Five, over 162 games, does that one moment really count? It may make a difference in that game, but your team has 161 other games to make up for it. If your team loses by one game, you can blame that one moment, but they had an entire season (not to mention the rest of the game) to have taken advantage of opportunities they should have. That one game didn't kill them.

Six, remember a couple years ago when Brian Jordan hit a home run in Philadelphia that didn't count? I didn't think so. He hit the bottom of the foul pole and would have tied the game, but the umpires didn't count it. I got over it and moved on. Everyone else will too.

I realize we want to get everything right and have everyone get their due, but Pettitte didn't deserve his bad ERA and Dice-K didn't deserve his good ERA. Life isn't fair. Maybe I'm too traditionalist, but I do like Interleague Play and the Wild Card. I can even tolerate the DH. This, though, bothers me.

Of course, the ever-wacky Jayson Stark actually called that slippery slope progress.

For previous CFAD entries:
  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites


Jay said...

I just think that if we can sit at home and tell what actually happened definitively, why shouldn't they get be able the call right?

1 - We've gotten by without it for 100 years because it wasn't available for most of that time.

2 - I'm okay with sliding down that slope. Let's use IR on tags and plays at the plate too. If you have conclusive evidence, why wouldn't you use it?

(I'm probably in the minority on a laser calibrated strike zone, though)

3 - We did overreact. If Delgado's non-HR didn't on happen on Sunday night baseball we still might not have any instant replay. But it was long overdue.

4 - It probably won't always work out, but it will be a hell of a lot more accurate than what we have now.

5 - The large sample size does negate the random nature of bad calls. Fair point, but that doesn't make it right.

6 - You got over it, but didn't you wish at the time they got it right?

I can see umpires being opposed to instant replay because it threatens their job and calls out their mistakes, but as a fan, isn't it frustrating to watch a blown call and absolutely know it?

Getting it right > Getting it wrong

(All due respect, sir)

tHeMARksMiTh said...

I get that point of view, and I respect it. You want to get the call right, which is fine. But if you go to more IR, it will slow the game down as several calls a game could go to IR. If you limit the number of challenges, then, like in football, we will still miss calls. I guess my main point is that I feel many people take the game too seriously. They get really angry/happy when their team loses/wins, and when a call goes against them, they feel like it's a huge travesty. It's just a game played among men, and I'd like to see it stay that way.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

"I guess my main point is that I feel many people take the game too seriously. They get really angry/happy when their team loses/wins, and when a call goes against them, they feel like it's a huge travesty. It's just a game played among men, and I'd like to see it stay that way."

Mark, that's a bit pollyanna-ish, ain't it? Once salaries are paid for performance, it's no longer a hobby or a grainy black-and-white photo; it's a business. And as a meritocracy, getting things called right/correctly is essential.

I've got a real fear of endless commercial breaks to review calls, but I'm not yet worried about that. I'll fret once IR expansion is proposed.

But, as I have said many times, this is a great, healthy debate and sensible minds can respectfully disagree! Just keep the knives in the pocket.

Jay said...

If they ever wanted to go full-on with IR, they should probably follow the NHL's model where calls get reviewed by a central location, and it doesn't take very long.

The downside would be that in the rare event they got the call wrong, the grassy-knoll-ists would come out of the woodwork like there's no tomorrow.

/puts knife back in pocket

Ron Rollins said...

When I'm Emperor of the Universe, these things will be fixed.

Carl the Big Fool said...

"Five, over 162 games, does that one moment really count?"

Two words: Jeffrey Maier. (Not sure if that kind of play is covered by replay, but it should be.)

Jay said...

@Carl - That game wasn't technically part of the 162. But they aren't only going to use it for the playoffs, so the point still stands.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

yes, the Maier play would have been reviewed as a "border call"

tHeMARksMiTh said...

As for the Maier call, wasn't there a few more games in that series? Weren't there a few more plays in that game? I'm sorry, but I can't understand when people think one play makes the difference in the game. You have tons of other chances. They could have won the rest of the games of that series. It was even in Game 1.

Still, I agree that it's just a debate. I don't take anyone's opinions personally, and I hope no one takes mine personally either. I think it's fun to debate, and Jason was kind enough to put my post up so I feel I should try to defend it.