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It's going! It's going! It's ... time to check the video
August 26, 2008 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Starting Thursday, Major League Baseball umpires will use instant replay to review disputed home run calls.
posted by Knappster (72 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I don't watch baseball, but I'm all for this sort of thing.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:39 PM on August 26, 2008


Bullshit.

Trying to influence the umpires' perceptions is the core of baseball. Why don't they just paint the strike zone with lasers and do away with the home plate umpire all together.

Better yet, have a pitching machine face off against a mechanical bat, and invent a crawling robot that can pull seven bucks out of my wallet every time I think about a beer.
posted by felix betachat at 10:44 PM on August 26, 2008 [11 favorites]


Wouldn't it be more in the spirit of the game to inject the umpires with steriods and improve their eyesight?
posted by three blind mice at 10:44 PM on August 26, 2008 [8 favorites]


No doubt they'll be letting horses play baseball next.
posted by cortex at 10:48 PM on August 26, 2008


Trying to influence the umpires' perceptions is the core of baseball.

It . . . is? Anyway, I'm kind of behind your lasers and robot ideas. To expand on these ideas, I would like to suggest a robot blowjob machine that brings me beers while also murdering New York Yankees with red-hot painful laser vision. There might be issues about where exactly to put the eyes, though.
posted by Skot at 10:51 PM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blech.
posted by rtha at 11:05 PM on August 26, 2008


As a non-sportsfan, I am puzzled as to why umpires did not start using instant replays the very moment they were first implemented. The point of having umpires, I understand, is to keep the game as fair as possible; therefore, using tools to make the game MORE fair could only make it better. Why is this decision being made in 2008?
posted by LogicalDash at 11:25 PM on August 26, 2008


Why don't they just paint the strike zone with lasers and do away with the home plate umpire all together.

Why don't they use the laser tracking and keep the umpire? As long as only the umpire (not the players) can see its display -- use lasers (or some other technology) to determine the exact position of the ball relative to the strike zone -- it wouldn't change how they play, it would just make the calls fair.

If there's any way to reduce the doubt (safe or out? fair or foul? when shall we three meet again?) without changing how the players see the game, it's good.
posted by pracowity at 11:25 PM on August 26, 2008


Well that is going to make it harder for them to fix games.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:26 PM on August 26, 2008


Thunderball!!

"Thunderball is both an improvement on baseball and a new sport to lead us into a new century. Long considered a "fringe sport," Thunderball is now ready to share the baseball fields currently occupied by the greedy traditionalists."

Rules of Thunderball:

1. Bring the walls in closer to allow for more home runs. Make home runs worth two points.
2. The outfield is five feet lower than the infield.
3. Instead of one ball, there are three balls, in constant motion.
4. Nine multi-shaped targets with varying point values are placed throughout the infield. A baserunner can attempt to throw his bat at these targets as he rounds the bases.
5. Defenders are allowed to tackle the runners as they round the bases; however, the runner is allowed to keep his bat. (Thunderball players are equipped with full pads and a helmet.)
6. The batter may choose to take six strikes instead of three, but this allows the pitcher one free throw at the batter. A hit by such a throw does not count as a free walk.
7. Honeys and Hounds: Cheerleaders and dogs are allowed to roam the field freely and affect play as they wish. During the seventh inning, however, players are allowed to tackle the Honeys as they please, for bonus strikes.
8. Team mascots will alternate innings driving a Honda Accord anywhere on the field except for the pitcher's mound, the batters box, and the dugout. Players can use this car as part of their offensive or defensive strategies. The Designated Driver rule of the Western Conference modifies this so that rather than an Accord, a Chevrolet is used, driven by a neutral party not affiliated with either team.

Additional Rules (under consideration)

* The Gun Circle - a loaded handgun is placed within a clearly marked circle to be placed ten yards behind second base. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS THE GUN TO BE TOUCHED AT ANY POINT DURING THE GAME.

"We'd rather have a gun in the outfield, than under a mattress where a child could get to it." -Joe Auxiliary, UCB Director of Health Services

* Each team's pitcher is allowed to throw three ceramic baseballs a game when he so chooses.

Teams in the American Thunderball Federation (ATF)

New Haven Terrorists, Evanston Strikebreakers, L.A. Killer Smog, Hartford Crime Wave, Atlanta Bloodlust, Germantown Holocaust, Manhattan Projects, Austin VampireBots, Chicago Slaughter, Pueblo Shining, Plague O' Locusts and so on.
posted by Balisong at 11:29 PM on August 26, 2008 [27 favorites]


I don't think it's bullshit. It's not to determine balls and strikes. It's more to remedy the occasional call where no ump has a good view--the kind of play where the umps, on replay in their motel rooms, bust into the minibar.

A little tech assist isn't gonna kill baseball.
posted by Camofrog at 11:29 PM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


It . . . is? Anyway, I'm kind of behind your lasers and robot ideas.

Ask, and you shall receive
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:36 PM on August 26, 2008


Baseball purists bemoan this sort of thing. But, puh-leaze, baseball is anything but pure, and anything to level the playing field will be good for the game. Now if they can just implement an actual real drug policy.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:42 PM on August 26, 2008


How do you get a job as an umpire? How much does it pay? I put in "umpire" on monster.com and it came up empty.
posted by crapmatic at 11:48 PM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


No problem with this in the cricket. If neither field umpire has a clear view of an incident it is referred upstairs where the third umpire views the television footage. It doesn't appear to have wrecked the game.
posted by Wolof at 12:05 AM on August 27, 2008


Changing rules in the middle of a season. What could possibly go wrong?

Other than that... I'm an old-fashioned, outlaw the DH and tear down Wrigley's lights kind of purist myself. But I don't mind this. One botched home run call (and I can think of five this year alone) makes an entire game moot.

I also like pracowity's idea. Laser strike zones that only the umpire can see. Brilliant.
posted by rokusan at 12:05 AM on August 27, 2008


I haven't even heard ONE thing since this was suggested that would even make me start to think it could possibly be a bad idea. Let's get home run calls right, every time. What's the big deal?
posted by ORthey at 12:26 AM on August 27, 2008


Changing rules in the middle of a season. What could possibly go wrong?

That's what happens when you make a used car salesman the commissioner.

Call me a purist if you want to. But the element of uncertainty that comes with the umpire's limited perceptions is, to my mind at least, a fundamental part of the game. Football is a game for augmented behemoths, R&D departments and instant replays. Baseball is a game for men played on grass and dirt with leather and wood. Anything that moves you from those essential five elements damages the game.
posted by felix betachat at 12:28 AM on August 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


But, puh-leaze, baseball is anything but pure, and anything to level the playing field will be good for the game.
posted by IvoShandor


I don't think you understand the term 'level the playing field'. If one team had the advantage of using instant replay to change calls against them, and the other didn't, that would be an unfair advantage. But since neither team could use it before, and now both can, it was a level playing field before and after.
posted by gtr at 12:40 AM on August 27, 2008


One botched home run call (and I can think of five this year alone) makes an entire game moot.

No, it doesn't. Where is this logic coming from? Games are affected every day with missed calls. This is no different.
posted by gtr at 12:42 AM on August 27, 2008


Call me a purist if you want to. But the element of uncertainty that comes with the umpire's limited perceptions is, to my mind at least, a fundamental part of the game

Sure, but we're not talking balls and strikes, fair or foul, or anything like that. This is about getting home run calls right. It happens only a handful of times per year, but why not get them right?
posted by ORthey at 1:01 AM on August 27, 2008


Baseball is a game played by men on dirt and grass with leather and wood and money. Instant replay means a slight reduction in the number of ways to play with the money. That's not such a bad thing.
posted by darksasami at 1:53 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure, but we're not talking balls and strikes, fair or foul, or anything like that. This is about getting home run calls right. It happens only a handful of times per year, but why not get them right?

If the umpire's perception and judgment are not the sole authority on the field of play, then it's not really baseball anymore. Baseball is not just a duel between pitcher and batter; it's that duel mediated by an umpire. Their contest of skill and strength is bounded by rules, traditions and a human authority. The element of self-correction at the heart of baseball, the idea that a bad call in one inning gets made up in another, or that a string of bad calls gets worked out over the course of a summer, that gets tossed out the window in favor of an objective standard that emphasizes what is accurate and correct at the expense of what is right.
posted by felix betachat at 2:13 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


But, puh-leaze, baseball is anything but pure, and anything to level the playing field will be good for the game.
posted by IvoShandor

I don't think you understand the term 'level the playing field'. If one team had the advantage of using instant replay to change calls against them, and the other didn't, that would be an unfair advantage. But since neither team could use it before, and now both can, it was a level playing field before and after.


Do I still look high?

Maybe, unless you think about the net gain and loss in home runs due to steroids being called properly, and thus negating what would have been an unfair advantage. Possibly not. Then again, perhaps this is far too much thought for a sport, for any sport.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:27 AM on August 27, 2008


Sure, but we're not talking balls and strikes, fair or foul, or anything like that. This is about getting home run calls right. It happens only a handful of times per year, but why not get them right?

Billy Martin didn't need no instant replay to protest a bad call.
posted by three blind mice at 2:32 AM on August 27, 2008


One botched home run call (and I can think of five this year alone) makes an entire game moot.

No, it doesn't. Where is this logic coming from? Games are affected every day with missed calls. This is no different.

Okay, I exaggerate. But a botched home run call is certainly one of the most devastating and impactful errors an umpire can make, and one of the easiest to correct with video replay.

I really want to agree with felix betachat's romantic explanation. He's completely correct, even, and I want that world too. But the problem is that these missed calls aren't just conversation pieces for fans to argue about after the game anymore, the way they were in radio days. They're shown on replay instantly, seconds later, to millions of fans... and again that evening, and again thousands of times over and over again in the days that follow.

That's what's different today. Once, nobody really knew what happened, but we trusted the umpires, even if they were wrong sometimes. Today, moments after a controversial play, the umpires are often the only four people among the millions watching who do NOT know what really happened... and that is wrong. It turns the idea of the umpire on its head, and makes them into a kind of bumbling clown, and that's not a good thing for anyone.

Or: The technology is there, and we can't take it away, so we might as well use it.

Umpires, in general, want to get the calls right, and as long as they control how and when video is used, they'll support this too. None of them want to be known for getting a critical call wrong.
posted by rokusan at 4:07 AM on August 27, 2008 [10 favorites]


If the umpire's perception and judgment are not the sole authority on the field of play, then it's not really baseball anymore.

It's still the umpire's perception and judgment; this just gives his perception an additional perspective. It's as though another umpire is stationed where he has a better view, and it will work much like asking the third- or first-base umpire whether the batter checked his swing or went around. There is no objective standard taking the power away from the umpire.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:21 AM on August 27, 2008


This is the worst thing ever to happen to baseball since the designated hitter.
posted by parmanparman at 4:37 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do think it's strange to make the change mid-season.But beyond that I don't have a problem with instant replays, as long as they don't interrupt the action.

I also think that QuesTec to review the umpire's calls is a good program. It doesn't interrupt the game while it's being played but allows for the detection of widely divergent umps. Really, it doesn't matter if different umps have different strike zones as long as it's applied the same to both teams.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:27 AM on August 27, 2008


The interesting side of this to me was that in the last few weeks it was first the Players Union, and then the Umpires, that both attempted to (or said they were attempting to) stall the implementation this season. My presumption is that both were using this as bargaining chips for future Collective Bargaining Agreements. Both quietly withdrew their initial loud objections.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 5:28 AM on August 27, 2008


Ballsong,

Of course, it can't go without also mentioning an old favourite:

George Carlin on how to spruce up modern sports.
time index 2:30 is where he starts talking about baseball.
Damn, I miss him sometimes.
posted by ThusSpakeZarathustra at 5:51 AM on August 27, 2008


I'm an old-fashioned, outlaw the DH and tear down Wrigley's lights kind of purist myself. But I don't mind this.

Same here. I was all prepared to be outraged, but once I realized how limited it was I decided it was OK. I reserve the right to be outraged and tell them to get off my lawn if they start expanding it and stopping games to check every little thing.
posted by languagehat at 5:53 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Balisong, you forgot the croquet wickets in the outfield.
posted by netbros at 6:03 AM on August 27, 2008


If they're going to show a video replay on a jumbotron screen so that everyone and their dog* knows what the correct call is, it seems assinine not to let the umpire use that information.

Felix: you, Bob Costas, and Billy Crystal should get together and compare notes. I think, between the three of you, you've pretty much got the "Baseball is A Hallowed Institution/A Thing of Beauty/Cure for All that is Wrong in the World" covered, but I can't be sure.


*The dog must have been snuck in the stadium.
posted by papercake at 6:24 AM on August 27, 2008


Setting aside any philosophical objections I may have, I don't like changing the rules during the season.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:43 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


... it seems asinine not to let the umpire use that information.

But being observant at the time is kind of the essence of being an umpire. You have nothing else to do but keep your eye on the freaking ball. If you've got questions, you ask the other two umpires what they saw from first or third. That's it.

This isn't football, where you've a massive field to consider and players constantly colliding one into another, obscuring your view (and the views of the other refs). And football referees have to hustle and keep moving. Baseball has its share of hefty referees, but you hardly ever see a referee in husky pants. So, going to the tape just makes sense for football.

But baseball? Nah. If you're going to have umpires at all, then let them do their job.

(Of course, I can't help but wonder if this isn't some kind of advertiser-funded conspiracy to make MLB games even longer, thus providing more commercial-space.)
posted by grabbingsand at 6:48 AM on August 27, 2008


We should probably confiscate their corrective lenses, too.
posted by cortex at 7:01 AM on August 27, 2008


Any sports "purist" who objects to the use of instant replay (in any sport) should be barred from watching, participating in, or cheering for/in/during any sporting event forever. Instant reply brings TRUTH to the game. If a true "purist" really is a purist, then he will want to know the TRUTH about any given sporting action. The distances and times involved in many sports plays are so minute, so quick, that human eyes simply can't register every single detail. An accurate video replay of the event can quickly reveal the Truth.
posted by davidmsc at 7:08 AM on August 27, 2008


But a botched home run call is certainly one of the most devastating and impactful errors an umpire can make, and one of the easiest to correct with video replay.

Take a look at the David Ortiz disputed home run in the link -- even with the replay I can't tell whether there was fan interference or not. A ball travels a long way between frames.

Felix: you, Bob Costas, and Billy Crystal should get together and compare notes. I think, between the three of you, you've pretty much got the "Baseball is A Hallowed Institution/A Thing of Beauty/Cure for All that is Wrong in the World" covered, but I can't be sure.

'sfunny. I hear Stephen Jay Gould calling from the previous post.
posted by Killick at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2008


Get off my lawn.

This has been said well before but baseball is by nature and intent human and subjective - at its simplest baseball is a bunch of people trying to be perfect at something it is basically impossible to be perfect at. The pitchers? There have been 17 'perfect*' games thrown in the ~150,000 MLB games played. Pretty much any pitcher would be happy with a game where they went 7 innings and gave up 2 runs on 5 hits. The hitters? Ted Williams was the last guy to hit over .400, (.406, 1941). That means he made an out more than half the time†. If you can hit the ball 1 out of 3 times you come to bat you can have a job on any team in the league. Fielding? Errors are extremely common, seems like somebody botches something pretty much every game (anyone know a real number on that?), let alone plays that aren't errors but the play isn't quite made (ball hit just out of reach, couldn't turn the double play, extra base on the throw, etc).

And the umpires are the same. Questionable calls are part of the game. They are like film grain. It isn't a defect - it's a flavor. A patina of barely restrained chaos and humanity that makes the game alive. I don't care that sometimes that call has gone against my team. I'm willing to sacrifice that.

I mean, follow the slippery slope and you really do get the laser robots calling balls and strikes. And why not build some sort ofelectro contacts into the balls, gloves, bats, bases and uniforms so we'll never miss an out/safe call? And then, it isn't really fair when a ball takes a bad hop, so let's compensate for that. Blech.

* But shouldn't 'perfect' be 27 strikeouts? Or maybe 27 first pitch pop-ups?
† Or he walked, or hit into a fieldr's choive, or reached on an error. But my point stands.

posted by dirtdirt at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Umpires, in general, want to get the calls right, and as long as they control how and when video is used, they'll support this too. None of them want to be known for getting a critical call wrong.

This bears repeating, with my emphasis added. The problem isn't technology ruining the game, it's the opportunity to use its existence to screw up the game.

Of course umpires want to get the calls right, every time, and they know that's not always possible. By adding in a technological assist, you're opening up an avenue for a ticked-off manager to protest and embarrass the umpiring crew. If you can question a home run, why not a close play at home? Why not double-check that called third strike, or whether the batter checked his swing in time?

You can't allow the managers to decide when they go to the video replay; it has to be the umpires, and the umpires alone, who decide. Even then, they'll still get plenty of pressure from the managers to check it - sometimes even when the manager doesn't think it was all that close, just to plant the seed that maybe the umpire was wrong, and should "make up for it" on a future close play.

This has the potential to be very, very bad. I have no faith that MLB will get this right. Considering the relatively few bad calls made over a 162 game season (with an average of something like 8 or 9 runs scored per game), the difference of 1-4 runs in a single game is meaningless.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:11 AM on August 27, 2008


I think the $85k/year ump with the corrective lenses should defer on those calls to the $40M/year player with surgically enhanced 20/10 vision.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:16 AM on August 27, 2008


Instant reply brings TRUTH to the game.
I think you are under the mistaken impression that Truth exists in a gme based on interpretation.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:25 AM on August 27, 2008


I'm sorry to see IR come top baseball, even in this very limited form. The uncertainty and human-scale of the game is what, for me, differentiates it from the other time-limited sports. Baseball embraces the fallibility of people. Hell, I'd contend it depends on it.

But, then, there are really two different baseball games today. There's the live game, and the TV game. They really are two completely different experiences. IR is a function of the TV game intruding into the live game. I'm not going to make any sort of "slippery-slope" argument here, but it does concern me that this will, eventually, open the door to other TV-game trappings taking root into the live game. I can easily see things like IR for all close plays and strike-zone tracking (ESPN's K-zone, for instance) being ushered in somewhere down the line.

This is also a reflection of today's fan, who seems to be unable to cope with a game that leaves things loose and up to human fallibility. They want things squared-off, neat, tidy, and machined to perfection without error. Personally, I want a fun game, human foibles and all. The ump flubbed a homerun call? Meh. We'll make it back down the line. It's a long season.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:37 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sympathetic with all the people who feel that baseball is a game of umpire interpretation, where video technology has no place.

But then I think about Derek Jeter's fake-ass "home run" against the Orioles in the 1996 ALCS -- the ball that a no-good kid reached over the wall and snatched while Tony Tarasco waited at the wall for the easy out. The "home run" that everybody in the stadium, apart from umpire Rich Garcia, knew was fan interference. The "home run" without which Baltimore would have gone up 1-0 in that series, and might well have won the pennant.

And I have to say, I wish we'd had a robot system that would have made the right call.

And also lasered the kid's hands off when he reached over.
posted by escabeche at 7:45 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


That Jeffrey Maier/Derek Jeter terrible call is a great example. As horrible and blatent and just WRONG as that non-call was, isn't baseball history better off having that sort of anomoly in it?

A similar example is the worst call of all time, which also went for the Yankees: the play in game 4(?) of the 1999 ALCS where Tim Tschida called Jose Offerman out at second when Chuck Knoblauch was literally 7 or 8 feet from him. I mean, you could have driven a car between them. They don't blow that call and maybe the Red Sox win that game and maybe the win that series and maybe they win the World Series. But, that didn't happen, and although it took years off my life at the time, in retrospect, I think the world is a more interesting place with that horrible call in it. I really do.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:03 AM on August 27, 2008


I could listen to (or read, as it were) people disagreeing about baseball all day long, I really could. So many points are so well made here, with such feeling, that my own opinion on the matter has changed about fifty times as I've read the thread.

God damn I love baseball.
posted by padraigin at 8:04 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


The game's gone downhill since they started letting people use gloves.
posted by starman at 8:18 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's sort of fun to see who the baseball authoritarians are. It makes me want to look at their other posts in political threads now.
posted by srboisvert at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2008


I’ll be completely ignoring any sort of slippery slope argument and focusing strictly on the implementation of replay for this and only this:

In my mind, this is absolutely the right thing for baseball to be doing. It is weird for it to happen mid-season, particularly when they acknowledge that it’s enough of a change that they won’t do it mid-series (which is why it’ll only be in three games on Thursday, and the rest on Friday), but this will pop up in so few games that I’d be surprised if we even see it before week’s end anyway.

I love the romance aspect of baseball. It’s awesome that there’s a social/political system that managers, players, and umpires participate in. There was a great example of this just last night. In the fourth inning of Sox/Yankees, Andy Pettite was visibly frustrated after Kevin Cash walked on four pitches, and gave a long stare into Jim Reynolds, the home plate umpire. Molina did what any good catcher would in this situation, and jogged out to the mound to try to calm him down. The Yankees, being the Yankees, all met him there (I hate/respect these guys like crazy. The infield pitcher visit is such a trademark move.) More importantly, Joe Girardi went out there as well, and lingered even after all but Molina dispersed. This forced Reynolds to come out and break it up, which gave Giradi the ability to comment on the previous at-bat without worrying about it escalating. (Under normal circumstances, even whispering something about balls and strikes will get you tossed in short order.) Immediately following, Jacoby Ellsbury saw a called strike three on a pitch that grabbed less plate than any of the previous tight calls.

If ever technological advancements removed things like this from baseball, I’d be the first to speak out against it. Allowing umpires to go to the replay on home run calls isn’t anything like that. It’s allowing a purely objective call to be made correctly by people who aren’t always in the proper position to make it. While I don’t think it has the urgency that a lot of its supporters claim it does, it had to be done after some of this years mis-steps. The ball marking on the foul pole in a recent Yankee game comes to mind. That’s an embarrassment. Who can honestly say that something that obviously wrong shouldn’t be corrected?

As usual, Fire Joe Morgan says it all better than I can.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:48 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a lifelong baseball fan, but even I start to get annoyed at the purists romanticizing the "human element" of the game. I can't help but imagine these same types sitting in tweed jackets, puffing on their pipes as they weep softly at a dramatic reading of the infield fly rule (Full confession - that last line is a complete ripoff of Bob Costas who used it during a "Fresh Air" interview).

I'll never understand the logic of being upset over something that will make baseball more fair to everyone involved and lessen the chances of a game being decided over an obviously bad call. I wonder if those who are so against IR would be equally supportive of rulings based solely on subjective judgement in other areas of their lives. Such as, would you willingly pay a traffic ticket from a highway patrolman who didn't have a radar gun, but just thought, based on his view, it looked like you were going over the speed limit.
posted by The Gooch at 9:15 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a purist! Get rid of the pitcher's mound! What's all this "called strike" crap?!
posted by dirigibleman at 9:20 AM on August 27, 2008


I have no faith that MLB will get this right.

Yeah, this.
posted by rtha at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2008


That Jeffrey Maier/Derek Jeter terrible call is a great example. As horrible and blatent and just WRONG as that non-call was, isn't baseball history better off having that sort of anomoly in it?

Not here in Baltimore, it ain't.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:41 AM on August 27, 2008


Not here in Baltimore, it ain't.
Ahh, got it. With the addition of replay Angelos will finally be able to put a decent team on the field again.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:45 AM on August 27, 2008


I'm not a baseball aficionado, but I have watched a few games in my life on TV. I've seen just 2 at the ballpark, which were real treats.

This particular thing really is a black/white issue. Either the ball cleared the fence/marker, or it didn't. This is exactly what instant replay should be used for.

I agree that computerized calling of balls and strikes would probably change the game far too much. It would at that time become a different game.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2008


This is just more hating on the Yankees. And of course nobody acknowledges that hatred as the one thing that makes fans of other teams.

We won those games, those pennants, those series. The purists' arguments validate those wins. Those who support the replays, well, they just hate that the Yankees had a superior team back then and latched on to any tiny thing that could detract from that superiority, that could paint them as the beneficiaries of luck or an ump's misjudgement.

Now, though, the Yankees suck, and suck hard, suckage even BJ queens marvel at. The House that Ruth Built should come down, this team buried under the rubble as its last great disappointment. I'd really like to see Jeter drive his Ford Edge over a provocatively entwined A-Rod & Cano, crashing into a pyramid of Yankee pitchers, and tossed through the windshield to splatter on the backstop. All while Damon watches, grinning peacefully.
posted by jma at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2008


If there's any sport that needs instant replays, it's not baseball, it's professional wrestling. I can't count the number of times referees have missed blatant infractions of the rules, and don't get me started on the shenanigans that occur when officials are distracted or incapacitated. I've even seen titles won and lost due to poor officiating (Earl Hebner, I'm looking at you)!

Sometimes I think the promoters don't even care if the matches are correctly adjudicated. It's embarassing, and I think someday it may even threaten people's perceptions of the integrity of the sport.
posted by nicepersonality at 12:44 PM on August 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Neat, they just figured out a way to make baseball more boring. Somebody finally hits a home run- one moment of excitement after hours of tedium- and we have to sit around waiting for the umps to cluster around a TV and make up their minds.

It'd be better if they just had to make a d20 saving throw against snakebite; just as likely to get it right, and a helluva lot faster.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2008


Neat, they just figured out a way to make baseball more boring. Somebody finally hits a home run- one moment of excitement after hours of tedium- and we have to sit around waiting for the umps to cluster around a TV and make up their minds.

For the fraction of homers that are borderline enough to actually merit a second look, you mean. Though you're likely not that invested in the issue in the first place if your take is that everything that isn't a home run is "hours of tedium", so, eh.
posted by cortex at 1:00 PM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's embarassing, and I think someday it may even threaten people's perceptions of the integrity of the sport.
posted by nicepersonality at 2:44 PM on August 27


I like you.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:49 PM on August 27, 2008


I guess baseball has not learned from American football that replay makes everything MORE complicated.

As in American football, cameras are placed in different places and at differnet angles depending on the stadium. You also have to rely on a deft cameraman and director to make sure you get the perfect shot- which rarely happens in American football.

Now add this extra problem to baseball: not all teams televise all of their games. So some games won't even have replay available.
posted by Zambrano at 2:22 PM on August 27, 2008


Now add this extra problem to baseball: not all teams televise all of their games. So some games won't even have replay available.

Every game is televised. Every game. There is never an instance when neither team is broadcasting a game.

And I really don't think everyone is understanding how this will be used. You know how very, very rarely (although, admittedly, somewhat more often this year) there are 5 minutes of uncertainty after a "home run" while the umpires discuss whether or not the quotation marks will be removed?

This will reduce those five minutes to three, and a definite answer will result.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:40 PM on August 27, 2008


Purists once freaked out about the addition of these new-fangled things called "stadium lights" to baseball fields. "Ruin the game, it will!" they cried.

As Garth so wisely put it: We fear change.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2008


Man, sometimes baseball fans are funny. Something little about the game will change and all of a sudden everybody is going crazy. "WHAT ARE THEY DOING WITH THESE NEW FONTS ON THE JERSEYS WHY DON'T THEY JUST PUT EVERYBODY IN GORILLA SUITS AND THEN USE ALUMINUM BATS AND A TENNIS BALL ARRRGHH"
posted by tehloki at 12:31 AM on August 28, 2008


"WHAT ARE THEY DOING WITH THESE NEW FONTS ON THE JERSEYS WHY DON'T THEY JUST PUT EVERYBODY IN GORILLA SUITS AND THEN USE ALUMINUM BATS AND A TENNIS BALL ARRRGHH"

I would like to subscribe to your baseball league.
posted by papercake at 4:54 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"WHY DON'T THEY JUST PUT EVERYBODY IN GORILLA SUITS AND THEN USE ALUMINUM BATS AND A TENNIS BALL ARRRGHH"

I'd also sign up for that one. Can we have a disco glitterball in centerfield?
posted by rokusan at 5:21 AM on August 28, 2008


As in American football, cameras are placed in different places and at differnet angles depending on the stadium. You also have to rely on a deft cameraman and director to make sure you get the perfect shot- which rarely happens in American football.

Wha? Football actually got it exactly right, by throwing an ungodly number of resources at the problem. On any given replay (which I love, and you should too, because it means at least another three minutes where you can impugn the dignity of your fellow spectators by wild fiat) there are bound to be 5 different angles of the play in question, because there are 300 cameras running at any given time. NFL Films being the behemoths that they are, everything's running at 200 frames per second, it's all in HD, and even when 90% of the film crew gets it horribly, horribly wrong, and is still tracking the tailback when the play-action pass is 20 yards downfield, there are still 5 guys who caught the action from every possible angle of interest.

The situations aren't quite analogous, because football is much more of a technologically-aided game than baseball, but the precedent on replay, at least, is clear: train at least three times as many cameras as you think you'll really need on every section of wall and warning track. It will make the game gloriously complicated, and give your fans something else to drunkenly argue about in the heat of the moment.
posted by Mayor West at 7:28 AM on August 28, 2008


Baseball fetishization is probably what furries look to when they want to feel normal.
posted by Cyrano at 12:16 AM on August 29, 2008


I'd hate to ever come off as an MLB apologist, because I think they make a ton of missteps.

That said, so far, so good.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:34 AM on September 4, 2008


That said, so far, so good.

Well, not so much, because he should have been called out strikes on the pitch before, and the replay (at least what we saw) was nowhere near conclusive (the call was probably right, but still).
posted by dirigibleman at 10:01 PM on September 5, 2008


Well, not so much, because he should have been called out strikes on the pitch before...

Irrelevant. I'm not saying you're wrong, but that has nothing to do with the use of instant replay.

...and the replay (at least what we saw) was nowhere near conclusive (the call was probably right, but still).

It's just like football. There needs to be conclusive evidence to overturn. If it's not there, even if it's not conclusive in either direction, the call can't be overturned.

Really, I think it went quite well. Particularly because it was at The Trop', which is nightmarish when it comes to home runs and ground rule doubles.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2008


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