While many professional sporting leagues have successfully been using video replay to their advantage for years, the MLB has strangely seemed to be immune to the allure of the boon which is video replay. But this past week, the sport of baseball has shown that its thought process and beliefs are not as archaic as what may have previously been thought. The MLB unanimously approving new additions to instant replay during games has found a fair compromise between allowing the emotional human element of umpires calling plays and the ability to overturn mistakes made by the human element for the sake of a fair outcome. The suspense that results from the judgment of one person who can affect the outcome of an entire game is an exciting concept that adds character to the sport in question, and baseball is no different. The yell of umpires calling strikes and balls and the hand movements through calls of safe and out are as much a part of the game as the players participating in the sport. So when the concept of providing managers and others the opportunity to review crucial calls is proposed, some baseball fans may be split between progress and maintaining the sacred art of the game. Those arguing over the matter will be pleased by the choice made by MLB and the Players Union in regards to instant replay.
The process of video replay is similar to that which is employed by the NFL, in which each manager receives a certain amount of challenges, which they can regain if the play is overturned. After the seventh inning, replay is automatic for certain things such as ground rule double, fan interference, etc. This decision will not unnecessarily complicate the sport of baseball, and it also respects certain aspects of the game by not reviewing footing on double plays. So gamesmanship will still be a part of the sport and players will still require the ability to get away with appearing to touch second base during a double play. In terms of unnecessary aspects of baseball, such as the tempers of players and managers erupting in the face of an umpire, video replay will not impede upon the development of such outside attractions. So baseball fans should rejoice because dirt will still be kicked at the feet of umpires and umpires will still be able to point vaguely but forcefully in the direction of the bleachers when they eject participants. And if video replay does minimize the number of ejections by umpires, then you can always buy a seat behind home plate and attempt to get yourself ejected by the umpire to fill that void in your heart created by lack of ejections. Or you can simply rejoice at the apparent levels of peace provided by fair calling of baseball games.
Umpires can be polarizing figures. In any given game you can go from loving them to hating them and, in some cases, your favorite team’s season can hinge on a call ending in their favor. In a perfect world umpires would be a non-factor—or at least aspire to be such. A sporting spectacle’s outcome should be purely affected by the actions of the players on the field, and officials should be virtually nonexistent to players and fans. Umpiring has been a spectacle in baseball for the entirety of its history, and baseball without umpires just does not seem natural. Luckily this choice by the MLB doesn’t remove the flashy aspect of umpiring which fans love, and players definitely do not. A player’s skills, physical prowess and a bit of luck are all that matters now when it comes to the outcome of plays, which is the way that it should be. And as a result not only should players and fans be rejoicing for the decision to approve expanded video replay, but umpires should as well.
Horrible umpiring can result in death threats and broken dreams. Now umpires no longer have to worry about affecting the outcomes of games as much. Instead they can focus more on their dramatic delivery of calls because videos can have the final say.