Instant Replay In Baseball? No Thanks

We went to the Twins game against the Detroit Tigers this afternoon. It was a fun game; starter Phil Hughes was excellent and the Twins won 5-3. We had terrific seats, front row in center field. There were five balls hit off the right field wall or to the warning track, and by leaning forward we had a great view of them. It was our first game of the season and the win put the Twins over .500. What’s not to like?

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Instant replay, that’s what. With two outs in the third inning, Brian Dozier, who is off to a fast start for the Twins, stole second base. He looked out to me–from center field–but the umpire called him safe. Fine. But there ensued a delay. The players all stood around for a while as the fans tried to figure out what was going on.

After a minute or two I realized that the Tigers had challenged the call and it was being reviewed. They showed the replay on the big Target Field screen, and it seemed to confirm, pretty clearly, that I had been right: Dozier was out. After a delay of five minutes or so, the officials looking at the replay video must have drawn the same conclusion, because the Tigers trotted off the field and Dozier returned to the dugout. The umpire’s call had been reversed, and the inning was over.

This delay came on the heels of a prior one, when the Tigers’ starter developed a blister and had to be relieved. By the time the inning ended, the game had ground to a halt. And it was anticlimactic: with no announcement made as far as I could tell, many in the crowd probably had no idea what was happening as the Tigers suddenly trotted off.

Do umpires make mistakes? Sure. But so what? Correcting one random error per game does almost nothing to achieve some kind of theoretical purity in the result. The old way was better: if the ump says he’s safe, he’s safe. Play ball!

PAUL ADDS: I couldn’t agree more.

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