One thing that came out of last week’s MLB owners meetings in Denver was a decision to move forward in the testing of replay technologies. This week MLB will initiate live game testing of equipment that could help umpires with fair or foul calls. The hardware, similar to that used in tennis, has been installed in both New York ballparks. After a three-game series in St. Louis the Astros will travel to Citi Field for a weekend series with the Mets that will be included in the experiment.
Currently MLB umpires only use replay on questionable homerun calls. The new collective bargaining agreement approved during the offseason calls for the league to take a look at expanding the replay system to include fair or foul balls and catches that may have been trapped against the ground. The technology that will be tested in New York has been successfully used in tennis for years. But the foul lines on a baseball field are much longer than a tennis court and it remains to be seen whether or not that technology will be effective.
I for one have never been a fan of baseball umpires using replay. But that ugly can of worms has already been opened. Sure, umpires make plenty of bad calls. But stopping the game to look at replays has even more of a negative effect, in my opinion. The flow of the game will be interrupted and momentum will be lost. The games will last longer and, worst of all, the umpires will begin to doubt themselves and be afraid to make calls. That’s what has happened in the NFL.
NFL referees used to have control of the games and that’s no longer the case. I would hate to see that happen in baseball. How many times have you seen an NFL referee hesitate on a call and look to one of his peers for help? I see it happen all the time. NFL refs are afraid to make a call because they know they can be challenged by replay. That is my biggest complaint about the use of replay.
The NFL’s usage of replays also results in too many stoppages of play and slows down the game. On many occasions NFL officials are unable to get any new information from replays and “the call stands.” I just don’t think the use of replay has improved officiating in the NFL and doubt it would improve umpiring in MLB.