Saturday, May 24, 2008

HR replay reviews

I find myself in full baseball mode now that I'm on the road calling these games for the Long Beach Armada. So let's take a look at the big controversy currently brewing in MLB: homerun instant replay.

Currently, there is no instant replay in Major League Baseball; it's the only one of the four major sports in the country that doesn't use some form of replay. NBA reviews period-ending baskets that may or may not have beat the buzzer. The NHL reviews goals from all sorts of angles to make sure the puck completely crosses the goal line. The NFL, heck, they review virtually everything - including field goals next season.

But baseball is now facing some heat after a few blown home run calls in the past week. One ball went off an outfield wall. Another off hit some yellow-painted stairs above the outfield wall. And more and more have taken awkward bounces to come back into the park, and in all these situations the umpires are in the difficult position of making the correct call.

Easy answer: just use instant replay. We can see it all and have clear-cut answers in mere moments. Plus baseball does not have the same concerns of getting the games in on time as other pro leagues considering the sport has no time limit. So naturally instant replay is the answer for home runs. Solved. Done.



I think instant replay will get the calls correct for the most part, but it is not 100 percent. One problem with the NFL's replay system that I have is the fact that not every game has the same number of TV cameras. The higher-profile game, the more cameras, the better chance for a good camera angle on the play in question. Not to mention the person responsible for feeding the video clips for replays to the NFL's replay officials sits in the TV truck and has his own biases that are not governed by the National Football League. (conspiracy theorists, have fun with that)

But with baseball replay, it seems more clear-cut. Did the ball go over that yellow line on the outfield wall or not? I think baseball, more than any other pro sport, has a very slippery slope when it comes to replay. Football, hockey, basketball are very subjective games for an official (yes, I know that the rules say what is pass interference or what is a blocking foul, etc, but in those games the referees are there to make those judgement calls).

The plays in baseball are not subjective like a pass interference call. Well, there was some contact, but not enough contact, and we haven't been calling minimal contact all game, plus I'm not entirely sure the ball was catchable anyway, so I'm going to not throw a flag. No penalty. Baseball, however, doesn't have those types of plays. The umpires make simple YES OR NO decisions. The ball got there before the player touched the base. OUT! The runner touched the bag before the tag got down. SAFE. As a result, if baseball starts using instant replay just for homers, I wouldn't be shocked if the domino effect caused the entire sport to be officiated by mounted cameras while the entire umpiring profession as we know it faced extinction.

Is that a bad thing? Well...? Nevermind, nevermind. Sorry, but when given the prospect of never dealing with umpires again, a guy can dream right?

As much heat as these guys face, the one thing we need to remember is the fact that they get most of the calls right. Granted, as I'm typing this, I just saw another replay of the Rangers-Indians game from last night where umpires ruled a should-be homerun a double for Cleveland. What was I saying again? Okay, so most of the calls. Most of. Not all.

I realize a home run is more important than a regular old play because it means point are either on or off the scoreboard. But where does it stop?

Home runs are okay to replay. But not a play at the plate, which might be more difficult to call despite an umpires close proximity to the play. I don't like the concept of limited instant replay. That's how things started in the NFL, and the league seems to expand replay every year to include more and more rules that were either overlooked or deemed not important enough when the NFL originally added replay. I do think the NFL is better off for it because they now seem to get the majority of calls right - the objective ones at least (both feet down, cross the goal line, down by contact, etc).

But baseball isn't like many other sports. The ballparks aren't even the same dimensions. Some have much higher walls (the green monster in Boston). Some have different nooks and crannies in the outfield. Some even have a miniature-golf-like obstacle course (centerfield in Houston). What is a home run in some places would not be even close at other venues (which is cause for an entirely new debate, but we'll save that).

If MLB is going to use instant replay, they shouldn't decide to do it just for HRs. Might as well implement it everywhere and get the whole thing over with.


Last night the Armada dropped a game for the first time this season. They are now 1-1 with the series-deciding third game coming up today (weather permitting) in St. George, UT. Here's my recap from last night's game that was posted on the team website.

STG evens opening series
By Josh Feldman

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- As the rain began to pour down, the Roadrunners bats continued to produce. Long Beach could not keep pace with St. George, which used a three-run third inning to take the lead for good in the 6-9 Armada loss on a wet night at Bruce Hurst Field.

Early Friday, St. George DH Trevor Dimick sat at his Odgen, Utah home when Roadrunners manager Cory Snyder tapped him to fill a open spot on the roster. Dimick, one of final cuts of St. George training camp, went 3-3 with 2 runs and an RBI. Roadrunner SS Brandon Taylor contributed three runs of his own, including a solo homerun in the eighth inning. Taylor finished 2-4 on the night.

The pitching debut for Long Beach native Nick Bierbrodt started off promising, as he struck out the first batter he faced. He finished with 5 IP, 9 hits, 7 run (5 earned), 4 SO, 2 BB and 2 HBP. Bierbrodt (0-1) took the loss despite flirting with fastballs in the low 90s throughout the night.

Offensively the Armada dipped from last night's 23-hit, 14-run outburst. Long Beach scored three in the top of the first inning to jump out to another early lead in this series. 2B Cleatus Davidson led the game off with a triple, and came around to score. 3B Ryan Lehr and LF Dan Trumble also scored in the first.

The Roadrunners third inning appeared to be the back-breaking difference-maker for St. George. Taylor reached base on an error to kick off a 3-run frame that put the Roadrunners up 6-4.

Lehr also blasted a solo homerun for the Armada in the seventh inning to narrow the lead to 8-5. Each team scored once more in the latter innings to bring the game to its 9-6 final.

SP Justin Abbott (1-0) earned the win for St. George, with 5 IP, allowing 5 run (3 earned), 4 hits and 4 SO on 88 pitches.

Ryan Claypool will start for Long Beach tomorrow night as the Armada look to win the season-opening series in St. George. First pitch will be at 6:05pm PDT, and you can hear all the action with Josh and JR at

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