In its 145th year of organized play, Major League Baseball has stepped into the new technological era implementing the use of instant replay. Most Americans are familiar with the system from its use in professional and college football as well as other sports, but for the first time replay will be allowed in America’s oldest sport.
All 30 of the major league baseball teams unanimously decided to allow instant replay before the 2014 season. According to USA Today, in the first nine games since opening day the challenge has been used a total of 47 times, and already been the topic of much controversy. Angels’ outfield Josh Hamilton spoke out vehemently against the system after a call was turned against him.
“”C’mon MLB, that’s terrible, and you can quote me on that,” Hamilton said. Upon review the right call was made, but for long-time players like Hamilton it might be hard to accept that the game is going to be looked over with a fine-tooth comb. Things that would never be challenged, or even noticed, now have the possibility to be reversed and affect the game.
The rules of the new system are simple, and quite comparable to the football system people are already familiar with. Each manager is allotted one challenge in the first six innings of play, like the coaches red flag in football. If the manager wins his challenge, he is given another opportunity to challenge in the first six innings. Only an umpire is allowed to call for the review of a play after the sixth inning. There is a long list of things that can be reviewed by instant replay including: fan interference, home runs, ground rule doubles, and fair/foul calls.
Most would say that system is working well and that it makes the game fairer. Others, however, would agree with Hamilton. One argument these dissenters make is that the use of instant replay will add time to an already long, often slow game. The first 47 reviews averaged a total of two minutes and 15 seconds, 45 seconds longer then the MLB had originally wanted. This added time also doesn’t account for all the times that managers argue with umpires while deciding whether or not to use a review.
Amongst the logistical problems like time, there is a grandeur theme of introducing the corruption of technology into the pureness of America’s oldest form of professional competition. Baseball is our country’s pastime; it is as American as freedom and apple pie. Some would argue that there is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly executed 6-4-3 double play, watching a nine inning no-hit bid, or a walk-off home run under the lights. The reservations against the instant replay system might have more to do with not wanting to tarnish the beauty of a simple game.
With that being said, it’s too late for the purists. The instant replay system is in and isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the next 100 games or so. Now all we can do is watch and see what kind of influence it will have, if any, on the outcome in October.