According to an ESPN report, Bud Selig and the baseball owners are prepping for instant replay prior to the end of this season. This move — years int he making — comes after a few high-profile blown calls earlier this season and an increasing belief that it’s far better for the umpires to be right than to keep up some semblance of “baseball tradition.”
But, as with any major baseball decision, this one is not without controversy. Dan Graziano sums up the problems:
I spoke with somebody from the players’ union, and with a few players, a couple of months ago about this. The union’s position is that baseball should wait on instant replay and make sure to do it correctly, rather than rush it. The players are concerned about the idea of a season played under two different sets of rules (i.e., why should a home run be overturned in September when it couldn’t be in May?), and they’re very concerned about the logistics.
There are legitimate questions about how replay would work and how it would be administrated. Would it all work out of some central office in New York, the way hockey runs its replay calls out of Toronto? How much would depend on camera work by team-owned TV networks, and how can those be certain to be impartial? How would they reconcile the differences in the number and locations of cameras from park to park and game to game, given the differences between games that are televised nationally on ESPN, Fox and TBS and the games that are only televised locally? And what of games that aren’t televised at all?
In short, there are a lot of reasons to wait on this until all of the questions are answered. I’m with the players on this. It would be better to test this system out next year in the World Baseball Classic and spring training — games that don’t actually count for anything — and work out some of the bugs in time for the start of the 2009 regular season.
I have long been on the record in favor of instant replay, but I have to agree with Graziano on this one. In an effort to implement something that doesn’t really need to be put in place until next season, Major League Baseball is going to jump the gun on this one and create more problems for this proposal than they will solve. But that’s the way the Commissioner’s Office has long operated.