MLB: Rekindling the Instant Replay Controversy

Brandon HeikoopSenior Analyst IMay 24, 2008

While watching last night's Cleveland vs. Texas barn burner, the umpires stirred up the instant replay controversy once again.

In this video clip of Ben Francisco's RBI double, you can see what appears to be the ball going over the yellow line in left field. While watching on Sports Time Ohio the commentators did not make it easy to come to one's own decision, but it does appear as though the ball landed on the top of the yellow line.


According to the ground rules, the padding atop the outfield rail at Progressive Field is home run territory, but after conferring near third base, the umpires decided the ball didn't hit the top of the yellow padding.

Slow-motion replay, however, showed otherwise.

Thus, the argument for instant replay can again be made.

Comically,'s Gameday shows that the ball went over the wall in left field. It does not show the ball touching the wallas is the case with the two blue dots to the right.

So if it is obvious that the call was missed and that this has been the case on numerous occasions to this point in the season, what is the hold up?

I am, as previously mentioned, against instant replay.

My thinking is that for every call instant replay fixes and consequently alters, will be wasteful slowing down hundreds of ballgames. The difference between an RBI double and a bases clearing home run will have no factor at the end of the day.

Furthermore, consider how many times a ball is put into play in a game? Maybe between 50 and 60 times? Of that, how many are home runs? On average one or teo? The majority of which are no-doubters.

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But how many close plays at first are there? How many near catches in the outfield that are called as a catch when they are "snow-coned?"

Let's take this a step further. How often has a "K Zone" or some other strike zone measurement popped up, only to show you that a called strike was way out of the zone? Or how about the other way around?

Of 300 or so pitches thrown in a game, even with the suggested 94 percent accuracy the umps are sitting at, some 18 pitches are called incorrectly. Is it not a fact that pitches, hitters and defenses change their approach for every instant in a count?

A 2-1 called strike that is actually outside the strike zone has the count sitting at 2-2 instead of 3-1. Now try and tell me that a blown home run call has more influence over a game than a six percent chance of a missed ball or strike.

Therein lies my problem.

Proponents for instant replay scoff at the idea that this would slow play down, asserting that conferences are already slow enough.

But if, as Ken Rosenthal suggests, there is the technology for instant replay, how could one justify implementing instant replay for a scenario which rarely occurs and not utilizing it for a scenario which is more frequent?

That said, this now occasional instant replay would evolve into a tool used for six percent of pitches. And then how many close plays at the plate? At first? A catch in the outfield? A pitcher balking? Stealing signs? Where would it stop?

How could one justify using this technology for an occasional occurrance when there is a multitude of other mistakes made throughout a game?

Let's put this another way. Think of how angering it is during football season when an obvious blown call is ruled "unchallengable" by league rules. Either a down by contact or other. Would this same frustration not exist in baseball games where a ball that would have led to a walk is called a strike and the count is set at 3-2?

I know chicks dig the longball but creating a rule which only affects home runs is kind of ridiculous, isn't it?

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