It’s 2016, and we are at only the beginning of the “instant replay era” in sports. This is becoming more and more common across the board, but I am most worried about instant replay in baseball.
Baseball’s a game that is beautiful in its imperfection. It’s a game of failure. If a hitter fails 7 times out of 10 – that’s pretty darn good. Pitchers have to work with umpires who have large strike zones, small strike zones, and everything in between. If a batter hits a ground ball and just barely get called out at first by the umpire, there’s nothing they can do about it.
Baseball is a human sport, and instant replay threatens to take away the human element that is so essential to the game.
I’m passionate about this because I’ve been on the not-so-fair-side. I’ve played softball my whole life and now at the collegiate level, and I couldn’t even begin to count all the times I’ve been let down by an umpire or that a bad call has cost me a game.
I’m also a pitcher – so with that being said, I’ve had to experience this “human” aspect in every game I’ve ever played. There have been umpires I love that the batters hate, and vice versa. I’ve been called for illegal pitches. I’ve had “home runs” hit off of me that seemed to be foul – but they were counted anyways.
I’ve seen fans get kicked out for screaming at umpires and have had my coach thrown out of the ballpark (multiple times) because he disagreed with the calls. It’s not always fair, and that’s a huge part of the game. Plus, isn’t it fun to watch a coach/player throw a hissy fit every once in a while?
A lot can be said about getting a call right, but bad calls are just as much a part of the game. Barely an inning goes by without a close play at first… are we going to take the time to review them all? What about close steals, balls hit down the line or even strike zones?
That type of replay will ruin the game. The home plate umpire is the only one who gets to define the strike zone, and that forces both the hitter and pitchers to adjust to each individual game. If a pitcher isn’t getting the low strike, or the inside corner, you adjust. This puts on pressure and increases competition, as well as excitement.
One of the most exciting plays is the late-in-the-game play at the plate. The runner slides in just as the throw comes from left field, catcher swipes with his glove, and the runner reaches with his hand for the backside of the plate.
The fans hold their breath looking to the man in blue, who, to their joy or horror, pumps his fist in ultimate finality.
Aaaand.. he’s out! The runner is out and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Not the players, not the coaches, not the fans.
But think: in the replay world, that excitement is gone.
That pumped fist means nothing. Instead fans, coaches, and players alike have to wait to confirm the call on the field. It may only take a few moments, but something has been lost. The action on the field and the suspense of the play is lost. The excitement is lost.
What’s the fun in that?
Baseball is beautiful because it’s not perfect. Let’s leave it that way.