It’s the hot button question reverberating around MLB. To expand the use of instant reply, or not to expand its use, that is the question.
The topic of instant replay in baseball reared its ugly head in Sunday’s game 2 of the ALCS between the Tigers and the Yankees. The call was an obvious tag, in which 2nd baseman Robinson Cano laid a clear tag on Omar Infante only for Umpire Jeff Nelson to call him safe. The aftermath played out in a scene all-too common in today’s baseball; one strife in frustration with the classic visual of the Umpire and manager going at it, with the manager getting his money’s worth despite knowing that the ruling stands. What was once part of baseball’s ‘bizarre’ culture, has now come to symbolized the campiness and down right frustrations that remain in the game.
Manager Joe Girardi was soon tossed out and the Tigers went on to score 2 more runs in the inning, which had Infante been called out would’ve ended the inning altogether, but the Yankees went on to lose 3-0. Yesterday’s boneheaded gaffe was just the latest ‘See, told ya’ moment in what’s unfortunately been a myriad of similar situations. The clamor for baseball to beam into the modern age and adapt technology has been one even the more pure of baseball fans have come to side with. But has Major League Baseball now become purposely stubborn in their refusal to expand the use of replay?
As of today, the use of instant replay is limited only to checking home run/foul calls. A game like baseball with so many different nuances and plays to be ruled, the limited use of replay is almost like a proverbial slap to the face. In the case of Armando Galarraga, who had a perfect game stolen from him, how can baseball be defiant on this issue with a stone cold facade? This is hardly the first time a playoff game has been majorly impacted by a blown call, sadly this is just another blemish for baseball and a turnoff for fans alike who are sick of the lousy excuses on why baseball is ‘too good’ for replay.
The haughtiness of Baseball is something still very much intact today. Baseball has this sort of willful blindness about how ‘its’ perceived, which almost borders on slightly clueless. For example, baseball still insists that it’s America’s quote unquote ‘past time’ even though the NFL surpassed MLB for that honor decades ago. Baseball also likes to insists on being a man’s game, one with rules and code of conduct–yet it’s a sport predicated off the art of cheating and one that thrived off years in which arguably 50% of the league used steroids. But you’ll never hear Bud Selig admit to any of baseball’s short comings, to him baseball is stuck in the late 1950’s early 1960’s as Dimaggio calls it quits and we’re about to enter the Mantle era where the folksy Americana image of baseball with sons and fathers eating hot dogs on a clear Summer’s day ring true. For people like Bud Selig baseball isn’t history in motion, it’s a relic stuck in the past. Selig treats the sport of baseball like a National Landmark, one that can’t be altered in any way and has to stay ‘pure’ and unrefined.
It’s stagnant thinking like one’s from the aforementioned commissioner that have driven many fans to look down at the sport and view it narrowly. To date, the biggest argument against instant replay is that the ‘human element’ is key to the game. Yes, because apparently to people who feel as such baseball thrives on the possibility and ‘intrigue’ of screwing up a game. Because after all, what says past time and fun like blowing a call for the home team and having fans leave crying into their hats because the Umpire is a human being and humans (newsflash) make mistakes. It’s narrow thinking purists who lean on the ‘human element’ who stop progressive thought in all elements of life. The same people clamoring for the ‘human element’ would be the same people 700 years ago arguing that the Sun revolves around the Earth, or that evolution is nothing more than a made up conspiracy against the Church. Seriously, now?
Like it or not, this is a debate that will only intensify and will not go away. Baseball continues to let the issue linger on and the only question now is how far is it going to drag on? What will ultimately prove to be the breaking point? What hugely messed up, history changing play do the Umpires have to get wrong that’s going to drill into the minds of baseball’s stoic front office and hard headed commissioner that the game needs technology to continue to survive? I’ve always been one to be critical of Commissioner Selig, but that’s because the role of a sports commissioner is to be visionary, you’re supposed to make leaps and bounds into the future not revert back to days of old and be stubborn about it. I’m wholly convinced that if Baseball under Selig had its way we’d be watching today’s baseball played with sticks, with players socks pulled up to their knees playing in someone’s backyard. Unbelievable.