Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Classic gets first look at instant replay

When the umpires went to review an Alex Rodriguez double in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, the precedent of playoff-tested, playoff-approved instant replay became the final straw in a mounting argument that will undoubtedly culminate with the expansion of instant replay in baseball next season.

The umpires overruled a double, calling the ball a homerun off a camera in the first row of the outfield seats - the first ever postseason use of instant replay. And the question must be asked: really, just how hard was that?

That's all it took to get a call right. The umps discussed the play, decided they needed to take a look at a replay of the could-be homerun - the only reviewable aspect of baseball. After a brief delay, they came out and signaled homerun. Easy. Simple. That did not seem to stop down the game for what amounted to an additional hour. The game was already behind schedule because of a rain delay, and yet the umpires had time to saunter into the dugout, find a television, and get the call right.

And getting the call right is the ultimate goal. It's not about being close enough. It's not about being right most of the time. The objective of having umpires, six unbiased umpires spread across the field, is to get the calls right. Instant replay was able to provide the World Series with the correct call and give the Yankees what could have become another Don Denkinger type of blunder in the Fall Classic.

The fuss of keeping the purity of the game cannot be nearly as important as keeping the integrity of the game (Granted, integrity went out the door with HGH and other performance enhancers, right A-Roid?). Still, to maintain that integrity, the calls must be right, and instant replay will be the way this happens in future MLB seasons.

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