Umpires Should Cede Control To Ruling Body At MLB Headquarters

By Steve Silverman
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The time has come for instant replay to become a staple in baseball.

No, not just for home run or trap-catch calls.

Major League Baseball has hinted that it is tired of seeing umpires blow calls on the bases and in the outfield, and that full instant replay — for anything but ball and strike calls — is right around the corner.

That means before the end of the 2013 season or at the start of the 2014 season.

Former Yankees manager and current MLB executive vice president Joe Torre says proposals will be discussed at the owners’ meetings in August.

“There’s no question we’re considering much more than the trap play and fair/foul,” Torre told the Los Angeles Times. “But again, one of the decisions we have to make is how much of this do we want to do without really disrupting and putting people to sleep?”

Yes, it is intrusive and it is likely to make games last longer. Yes, it means that Big Brother will be watching over umpires and they will be second-guessed.

That’s nothing new. Every fan sitting at home can replay controversial plays over and over again. The fan sitting in his easy chair has a better chance of making an accurate call than an umpire working a base on a tag play.

Everyone should be able to see this, including the umpires themselves. They can’t run away from technology.

They should embrace the idea and run with it, not fight against it.

The umpires should cede control to a ruling body located at MLB headquarters in New York, which would review every call in much the same way that the NHL reviews all goals.

Those in the central office in Toronto have a much better view than any goal judge in Madison Square Garden or the referee. The replay can catch when the puck crosses the goal line by a fraction of an inch. The referee cannot make that determination with the same assuredness.

If baseball goes to more replay, the replay official will be able to see if the player slid into the base safely or the infielder slapped the tag on him an instant before his foot hit the bag.

The replay official will be able to stop the action and make a definitive call.

It’s all about getting things right. Replay would work superbly in baseball, just like it does in hockey.

While the NBA has limited replay, it seems to work well. When officials determine who has possession in the final two minutes or if a player’s big toe was on the line when a three-point shot was attempted, the rulings are 99.9 percent accurate.

The NFL initiated instant replay in 1986 and it has never worked extremely well in that league. There are some calls that get corrected, but there are too many calls that instant replay gets wrong or can’t even make a determination on.

The challenge system is foolish and needs to be abolished by the NFL. Calls need to be reviewed from a central location and they must be made quickly and with authority.

Major League Baseball is considering a move that would lead to more correct calls and, in turn, make the game better. Those who are against it cite tradition and the pace of the game.

Yes, it would impact tradition — the tradition of incorrect calls that has dogged baseball for decades.

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