Point/Counterpoint: Does MLB need to expand replay?It's not the system, it's the people, says Joe Auriemma
America's pastime has always stood for certain things, and in addition to the history of the sport and the statistics that fans live by, the human element is also a big part of baseball. There is already replay for home run calls, and even though many wholeheartedly agreed with the decision to take a second look when baseball decided to implement that policy, it should be used for more than that.
The reversal of interfered or close home run calls is one part of the game that can make or break a contest on any given night, and can even make or break a season. However, when it comes to calls being made on the field of play, adding more replay will only begin the game down a slippery slope…and where does it end? Is it going to come to a point where close balls and strikes will be subject to another look? What about every stolen base?
Baseball games are already long enough; an average games takes roughly three hours, and long gone are the days of the 90-minute ballgame. More replay would just continue to bloat the clock and kill the pace of even the fastest contests, so for the good (and the length) of the game, replay has to be stopped at some point – and the way baseball has it set up now is perfect.
That said, if baseball needs or wants to change something, then instead of helping the human element, they might need to shake up the group that makes it up.
The common problem with the growing number of botched calls in the league lies in the umpires themselves, as frankly, many in the current stable of umpires throughout Major League Baseball are not up to snuff. The adage goes that the best umpires are the ones you never hear about, and truly, the process of scouting, hiring, and evaluating existing umpires is just as important, if not more, than finding the talent that is playing on the field. But right now, the entire process is extremely flawed.
This has been an issue throughout baseball for a number of years now, and not once – at least not until very recently – have any of these game officials been held accountable for their actions. In most professions there is a review process on job productivity; but in baseball, it seems that whenever there is a glaring missed call, there’s never any reaction from MLB to punish (or even reprimand) the offending parties.
Going further, many in the current crop of umpires have made the game about themselves. Whether it be about complaining about length of games, punishing a catcher for supposed back talk by not giving them the right to throw back to their own pitcher, or even stating that they will call a balk at some point in the game just because they can, that just exemplifies why they are the most hated individuals on the field.
That arrogance can also blind them on calls, and on many occasions they even refuse to overturn calls after conferring with one another (even when it’s obvious that it’s the right thing to do), simply because they don’t’ want to look foolish for making the wrong one. That’s somewhat understandable, as no one like to make mistakes – but their job is to get it right.
Sure, even with a better, more properly trained crop of umpires, there will most likely still be missed calls here and there – but going back to the original point, the rare mistake on a non-glaring call makes for the wonderful debate we get from the different fanbases around the country, and that human element is what makes baseball even more interesting.
When it comes down to it baseball is a lot like life: both are perfectly imperfect. And, even in the face of mistakes can come happy endings, a notion epitomized by the Jim Joyce/Armando Galarraga incident in 2010. Even though Galarraga is now more known for a missed call rather than actually pitching a legitimate, almost perfect game, he showed another part of the human element – compassion – when he told a humbled Joyce that “we are all human and all make mistakes.”
After all, to err is indeed human, but forgiveness is divine. And so, baseball should remain that way…just, maybe, with better humans.
What do you think? Read Lou DiPietro's counterpoint here, and voice your opinion in the comments section below.