Friday, October 23, 2009

How to Implement Video Replay into MLB

This postseason's umpiring has led to a renewed debate of whether major league baseball should implement video replay. As pointed out by ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd, as well as others this morning, baseball is known for its tradition and resistance to change. So what does baseball do? The issues involved are clear, umpires believe their authority would be threatened and do not like being second-guessed, MLB and the television networks want there to be a flow to the game, all the while teams, players, and fans want the right call to be made.

There is a simple solution to this problem that would appease all of the involved parties. I would implement video replay and have it run by a fifth umpire. MLB will not go the way of the mysterious hockey replay guy or the retired official taking a day off from golf like college football uses. The process is simple. Say a third base umpire were to miss two baserunners being clearly tagged out. (Hey. It could happen!) The umpires on the field do nothing to change the call. The fifth umpire, in the umpires room or press box, will see the missed call, buzz the crew chief, and change the call.

Where do we get this fifth umpire? Add one umpire to every crew. After working the plate, you get a day as the replay umpire so everyone does it. The umpire's union will love it because adds 15 umpires to the major leagues and the second-guessing is coming from bona fide major league umpires, not some real estate salesman.

Now I know what you will say? Why would an umpire want to overrule a fellow umpire? For one, because he is also a major league umpire, failing to do so would be part of his evaluation which is used to determine postseason assignments. Two, the replay umpire knows the final blame will be placed on him, not the guy making the original incorrect call.

What about the other concerns? MLB and TV will love it because the callls would be quickly corrected instead of drawing out the game while the victim manager comes out to argue even though there is a ZERO chance of the call being overturned. As for the teams, players, and fans? They may not like it if an original call for their team is changed, but an honest look at a replay will show the correct call was made.

Finally, this would only be used for obvious calls such as fair/foul balls, tag outs, catch/no catch. In situations where the call is still not obvious, you stay with the original call on the field, keeping the beloved human element desired by the baseball traditionalists.

Baseball needs to implement video replay and get it done now. Can Bud Selig or any other baseball traditionalist give us any reason(s) why not? If your first reason is, "We haven't done that before." You need to give baseball fans a better reason.

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