In 2008, Major League Baseball started to allow the use of instant replay for close home runs. I didn’t think it was enough then and four years later, I still think the MLB needs to use the technology that is at hand.
The NFL, NBA, and NHL all allow their officials to use instant replay on close plays and in my opinion, it has made the game a lot better. It feels like the officials are held in check by instant replay and if they do make a mistake, they can use it to make sure they get that big call correct.
If the MLB had instant replay, it wouldn’t hurt the integrity of the game, it would enhance it.
In 2010, Detroit Tigers player Armando Galarraga was pitching a perfect game. With two outs in the top of the 9th, Cleveland Indian Jason Donald stepped to the plate. Donald hit a ball towards the Tigers first baseman, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera fielded the ball and threw it to Galarraga who was on first base. Jim Joyce called the runner safe but when you watch instant replay, you can easily tell that Donald was out by a foot. This isn’t a regular game we are talking about here. This is the last out of what would have been the 21st perfect game in MLB history.
Jim Joyce admitted he blew the call once he had seen the replay and he felt awful about it. It is great to see a guy own his mistakes in today’s society and what happened the next day was one of the most unforgettable moments of MLB history. But I much rather have seen Jim Joyce call timeout on that June night, walk into the umpire’s clubhouse, watch the replay, come back out and call Jason Donald out.
In 2011, Jerry Meals made the worst calls I have ever seen. It may not have carried the same significance of the Galarraga perfect* game, but it was a call anyone could have made. It was the 19th inning of a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves. The game was tied in the bottom of the 19th when Julio Lugo tried to score the game winning run. Pittsburgh Pirates catcher, Michael McKenry tagged Julio Lugo three feet in front of home plate but Meals called Lugo safe to hand the Braves the win. This could have been avoided by the use of instant replay. If Meals was allowed to watch the play again he would have been able to make the right call.
In today’s world, every error is under a microscope and the better and better instant replay gets it will just make the MLB umpires look worse and worse.
On May 3rd of this year, Tim Welke called the Dodgers’ Jerry Hairston out at first, while the first baseman was three feet off the bag. Yet another time instant replay could have been used to make sure the call was correct.
I propose that the MLB allow an umpire the use of instant replay whenever he feels he did not have a clear line of vision to make the call. I don’t want to see instant replay on balls and strikes, but would love to see it on close plays.
The consistent ignoring of better technology by the MLB will destroy the integrity of the game, not the other way around. It is available, use it!