Friday, August 22, 2008

Try Again

Major League Baseball seems ready to embrace 20th century technology and start using instant replay in games this year. The purpose of replay will be to fight injustice, right that which is wrong and serve all mankind! No longer will fans suffer because of blown calls like Don Denkinger at first base, and Jeffrey Maier's fan interference and Joe West calling a Norm Charlton pitch 6 inches off the plate a strike resulting in Andre Dawson launching bats out of the dugout.

What? You meant to say that not all of those calls would have been reversed? Why not? What the hell good is replay going to be if it doesn't reverse these injustices? Tim Kurkjian tells us how it's all going to work:

The only plays that will be reviewable will be home runs: Was it fair or foul? Did it clear the fence, or didn't it? The Steve Bartman play from the 2003 playoffs at Wrigley Field would not be reviewable, but the Jeffrey Maier play from the 1996 playoffs at Yankee Stadium would be reviewable. No other play is reviewable, and from all indications MLB is adamant that replay will not be expanded to cover anything beyond home run calls.

In all 30 ballparks, there will be a television monitor and a phone line installed in a secured area, usually in a tunnel that leads from the field to the clubhouse area. When a replay is called for, usually one umpire -- but never all four of them -- will leave the field to look at the play on the monitor, assuring that at least one umpire will be on the field at all times.

Television feeds from all ballparks will be monitored in a "war room" in Manhattan -- one source called it "our NASA" -- where a technician and an umpire supervisor will have access to all games at all times. Each game will include the TV feed from both teams, meaning the war room will get angles that won't be biased in any way for either team. The umpires at the game in question will be in control of review process. The crew chief will make the final call. The war room is designed to assure that the crew chief has everything he needs. And, once a pitch is thrown after a disputed call, it is not longer reviewable.

Now, this page is all in favor of getting plays right. But if the issue is making disputed home runs undisputed, there are far easier and quicker methods of doing just this.

First, have every stadium install a Wrigley Field-type basket along the outfield walls. This will prevent fans from reaching over and interfering, btu still allow the outfielders to make the home run robbing catches that ESPN needs for Baseball Tonight.

It's a home run or...  I dunno.Second, get rid of all those stupid yellow lines at ballparks. Take the left centerfield wall at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The space where the garage door meets the back wall already caused Geovany Soto to burn 100 extra calories because of the poor design. Just make these areas easy to see if it's a home run or not.

Third, if you want to know if a home run is inside or outside the foul pole, just attach lights to the fair side of the poles. If a ball passes close to the pole and is illuminated by the lights, it's fair. If it's not illuminated, it's foul. Simple and instantly viewable to the umprires, players, coaches and the fans in the park.

This replay system will not only seldom be used, but it's going to create massive delays. Just how long is it going to take Tim Tschida to leave the field and review video on a feed from New York? And will he stop for a snack before he returns?

Phineas J. Whoopee Selig, you're the greatest!If baseball wants to fix mistakes the umprires make, everyone should be all for it. The system proposed barely does that and does so in about as inefficient a way as possible.

Back to the drawing board, Mr. Selig.

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