Sports fans have heard the old saying that umpires or referees are simply a part of the game. Even new Chief Justice John Roberts stated in his confirmation hearings that ‘judges are like umpires as they make sure everybody plays by the rules.’ He further added that ‘nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.’ Yet, following a series of botched calls in Major League Baseball, umpires such as Don Denkinger, who blew an obvious out call at first base in the 1985 World Series, have become everyday household names with players such as Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Kobe Bryant. Not exactly the unknown rule-enforcers that John Roberts so vividly described in his speech.
Let me introduce you to our newest addition to this horrendous list: baseball umpire Doug Eddings. Eddings made a very controversial call in Game Two of the American League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Chicago White Sox, which resulted in the White Sox receiving an extra out in the ninth inning. This out was critical as it would have been Chicago’s final out and the Angels would have been up to bat in the next inning. Instead, the White Sox capitalized on this miscall and won the game with the next batter. The end result was a tainted win, an extremely pissed-off opposing team and a loss of integrity for the game of baseball.
This trend is becoming way too familiar in sports in recent history. That is why many professional leagues, such as the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and college football, have started implementing instant replay. The NFL has had enormous success by allowing coaches only two reviewable plays a game.
The NBA allows instant replay only on last-second shots of each quarter. The NHL also uses instant replay to verify if the puck actually went beyond the posts. College football has become the newest addition to sports utilizing instant replay, as only specific conferences like the Big Ten.
Even with all these professional sports leagues using instant replay, someone forgot to tell baseball commissioner Bud Selig and MLB that we live in the 21st century. I know that many of you already think that baseball games are too long and tedious as they are. I am not advocating for a replay of every call. I do not think that coaches should be able to review balls and strikes since there are over 200 pitches thrown in an average baseball game. Rather, disputable homeruns, plays at the plate that can dramatically alter the course of the game and questionable calls in the ninth inning like the one in the Angels-White Sox game should be covered under instant replay.
We owe it to not only to the fans but to the integrity of the game, as well. Furthermore, baseball players have already played over 170 games in less then seven months and should have their talent and skill determine the outcome of the game, not the Doug Eddingses of the world. Where would the sports world be without the ‘Tuck Rule’ in the NFL after the famous Patriots-Raiders game? What if the referees called Derek Fisher’s miracle shot in Game 5 with 0.4 seconds left against the Spurs invalid?
The point is that there are too many circumstances in which the umpires cannot make a clear decision because of the fact that everything happens to fast. There is no question that instant replay has helped take some of the human error out of sports. This allows sports fans to not only concentrate on the remarkable athletes that perform on the field, but enables us to tune out the referees as the players try to determine the outcome of the game. This is exactly what sports are all about. They are about two-minute drills, walk-off homeruns, game-winning three-point shots
Filed Under: Opinion