The first round of the newly-instituted Major League Baseball replay rules went into effect earlier this week when a pair of managers threw their proverbial challenge flags in order to get a call reversed on the field.
Whether the challenges were won or lost didn’t matter for a number of reasons: the challenges came in spring training games and neither was a determining factor in one team either winning or losing the game.
However; with the new rule now in place for the foreseeable future, baseball “purists” may have already started an argument that simply won’t be won in this day and age.
The first reported replay happened on Monday and took two-and-a-half minutes to review. The call stayed the same, but the report pointed out that the waiting time was only supposed to be in the neighborhood of 60 seconds or less.
The length of a review shouldn’t be something people should get angry about, it’s whether or not the call was right.
In the National Football League, dozens of obviously-blown calls during the pre-high fefinition age pushed the replay system back into affect.
The one call that might have broken the barrier between “we’re not doing it” and “we’ll think about it” was when the Jets, playing against the Seahawks in early December in 1998, fell a half-a-yard short of crossing the goal line, yet was called a touchdown.
The score gave the Jets the lead and the win, and also knocked Seattle out of the playoff contention at the same time.
There was no replay review then. There is now.
Certain plays also stick out quite easily on the baseball diamond where, had replay been implemented at the time, would have turned the game around completely.
One was the Derek Jeter’s home run in Yankee Stadium that was clearly interfered with by then 12-year-old Jeff Maier. Several replays showed Maier interfered by reaching his glove out and pulling the ball over the fence.
It eventually led to a Yankees’ victory and a berth in the World Series, which they also won.
There are countless other instances where replay in baseball could have, and should have, been used.
The Bartman ball and umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call that would have given Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game are only two of bigger plays that come to my mind here.
However, I’m sure there are several other instances that stick out in baseball history that, if replay had been implemented, would have been called differently.
Am I in favor of the replay? Yes and no. What I ultimately want to come out of this replay system is the right call, which is what any fan of any sport will tell you.
The length of time it takes will be an issue. Casual fans will have the same complaints about football that they will about baseball: it prolongs the game.
If it prolongs the game, but the call is confirmed correct or gets corrected, then I’m all for it.
Besides, with replay in its infancy stage in baseball, only one challenge can be used per manager per game, and only through the first six innings.
After that, it all goes to the booth.
With a system like this one in place, a call that takes two minutes to get right will seem like nothing as the season continues.
To all the detractors out there: relax. The system is in place and there’s nothing you can do about it for now.
At some point you’re going to believe this was the right thing to do for baseball and all of its fans, the hard-core and casual alike.
You’ll especially appreciate it when a decision could give your favorite a team a win.
Replay in baseball will be a good thing, I promise.