Though there have not been any controversial calls for the Yankees–or the rest of the league it seems–thus far in the season, replay has been a hot topic in the YES Network booth through the first two games of the season. During Sunday night’s game, both Al Lieter and Ken Singleton expressed their displeasure with the idea of expanding replay (they agreed with using it for home runs and other “boundary” calls). Unfortunately for them, their arguments were basically red herrings. They may have been “winning” the argument, but they were doing so against strawmen.
The first misplaced argument was the classic “Well, then you’d have every pitch under review!” Of course, when one hears the idea of every single pitch being eligible for review, one is against that. The game would take FOREVER if that were the case. Too bad for Kenny and Al, though, that no one was suggesting that. The closest argument I’ve heard to that is to have a computerized strike zone (more on that later), but as for what Singleton and Lieter were arguing against…no one’s suggested that.
Secondly, the announcers said that any expansion of replay would cause the game to run too long. This argument ignores the fact that the current replay format is ridiculously long. There is absolutely no reason for all of the umpires to leave the field, watch the play on a TV somewhere, and then come back to make the call.
What to do, then? It’s simple, really. I wrote about it in October and our own Steve S. agreed with me, via internal communication:
Use it, but speed it up. The stuff with Umps going into dugouts is absurd. Have someone from the league in the TV booth and the head ump with an earpiece. Calls from upstairs overrule those on the field. It would take a few seconds.
That sums up my argument pretty nicely. There’s no reason for the umpires to leave the field. All MLB needs to do is have an extra umpire or official somewhere in the stadium or in the production truck or anywhere with access to a television. This person is in constant communication with the crew chief and calls him when an incorrect call is made. That call is then corrected and the game proceeds. This would take, as Steve said, mere seconds.
My point on robot umpires above is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. While it would be nice to have a computerized strike zone, it’s not going to happen. Baseball is far too slow moving to implement it any time soon, and the umpires’ union would definitely not approve. If that’s not going to happen, though, then there needs to be a more standardized strike zone that is more readily enforced by Major League Baseball. Pitchers and hitters should not have to play a guessing game or radically change their gameplans based on who the home plate umpire is that night.
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