Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Major League Baseball Funding for Additional Replay

By: Alexa Fontanella

How would baseball history be different if the MLB acquired instant replay years ago?

Derek Jeter hit a momentum swinging home run over the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium in 1996 during the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles. The only issue is, the ball should have never made it over the wall. A young fan reached over the wall and caught the ball, preventing the outfielder from making a play on the catchable ball. Without the spark provided by Jeter’s ‘homerun’, who knows if the Yankees would have gone on to win the World Series.

Or maybe Jim Joyce would not be known as the infamous umpire that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher, Armando Galarraga a perfect game by blowing an out call at first base in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs. Galarraga pitched the greatest game of his career but lost being a part of history by a terrible call in which the first baseman threw the ball to Galarraga covering first base and clearly caught the ball and stepped on the base well before the runner reached first, but Joyce called him safe.

These are two instances that caused many to raise the question of whether or not baseball should have instant replay. The NFL has had instant replay for years, and it is about time MLB has followed in their footsteps to improve ‘America’s pastime’, the great game of baseball.

Umpires are human and they are going to make mistakes, but when the stakes are so high, it seemed as if replay was inevitable for MLB to acquire.

With that being said, the day has finally arrived, and baseball is embracing today’s advanced technology to improve how games are being officiated. Major league owners have unanimously voted to approve funding for additional instant replay throughout MLB. Does instant replay mean the days of arguing about a call are over? Of course not, their will still be plenty of instances during a game when people will disagree with an umpire’s call, or if a pitch is a ball or a strike. Instant replay is being implemented to have the correct call and to prevent the outcome of a game to be caused by the umpire’s, at times, delusional calls. Although opposing fans will see two completely different things when watching at the same video of whether the ball was fair or foul, or if the runner was safe at first base in the ninth inning, the umpires will finally be able to make the correct call, hopefully. Almost every decision on the field will be subject to review when challenged by a manager, except for balls and strikes, checked swings, and foul tips.

Of course their are some concerns, including the length of time it will take for the umpires to make the call, or judgment calls, when even after viewing the replay, a call might not be definitive and lead to a controversial call, which is seen frequently in the NFL.

The new replay system that will be implemented during the 2014 season, will allow managers to challenge two calls during a game. Although it is beneficial that the objective will be to make sure all of the calls are the correct calls, it is now taking the pressure off of the umpires and transferring it to the managers. Instead of correcting the problem at hand of umpires blowing calls, this new replay system will just lead to managers being scrutinized more then they already are. The fans and media will now be frequently debating if managers are wasting or not using the replay challenges during a crucial part of the game, creating a more hostile managerial environment.

If MLB had instant replay years ago, maybe Jeter would not have become the hero he was during the 1996 playoffs, and Armando Galarraga would have pitched a perfect game and saved Jim Joyce from the embarrassment of such a horrific call.

Instant replay has been debated in baseball for years, and will continue to be debated even after its expansion in MLB.

Alexa Fontanella is a freshman Sport Management Major at Drexel University, from Totowa, NJ. This winter she will be working with Drexel Athletics on marketing strategies and game day operations for the Drexel Dragons basketball team. Alexa is looking forward to participating in her first co-op next fall and is excited for such an amazing opportunity. She is a huge New York Sports fan, specifically the Yankees and the Nets.

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