20 August 2008

Video Review In Major League Baseball?!?!

In truth, video review will be implemented in a rather restricted capacity, at least initially:

Baseball umpires and management signed an agreement Wednesday that will allow the sport to start using instant replay to help determine calls on the field.


Replays will be limited to boundary calls, such as determining whether fly balls were fair or foul, or whether they went over fences.

Since most MLB games are televised somewhere (with attendant replay capability), and the Jumbotron replays reveal actual ball position to the crowd in the stadium, spectators have been able to re-examine these kinds of calls for a long time now. It seems reasonable on one level to allow the umpires access to the same sort of technology to re-evaluate their calls, in case of dispute.

However. Having done some umpiring myself (local Little League games, while I was in high school), one of the basic tenets of the role, roughly stated, is that the umpire is always right, even if he's wrong. The umpire is the boss of the field, and when it comes down to it, as long as none of the technical rules of the game are violated, the umpire's judgment is the final word. I would argue that errors in judgment by the umpires (which will happen, due to their inevitably imperfect humanity) could almost be considered part of the ground rules. To be sure umpires should strive to call games as accurately as possible, but the occasional error cannot be avoided.

Open one type of call to video review, and I have to imagine that others will follow, in time. <shrug> I think I'd prefer video review never be instituted, but perhaps, ultimately, it will end up being a net positive.

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