Instant Replay Becomes Part of Major League Baseball

By: Sean Speirs

     Major League Baseball’s Commissioner Bud Selig has finally surrendered. 

     This Thursday, our nations past time will catch up with every other major national sport and include instant replay technology.  This new move is set to last through the rest of the season and post-season (while ideally being re-evaluated during the winter off-season).

     What’s the catch?  Instead of a “play-by-play” instant replay that one may see in an NFL game, the MLB’s instant replay will be used strictly for disputed home run calls, such as over the outfield fence foul balls and fan interference with potential home runs.

     In an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Selig admits that he is “old fashioned”.  “I love the sport the way it is,” Selig said, “but the time has come for this [instant replay].”

     Unfortunately, for some baseball teams who lost because of radical home-run calls, the “time” for change has come a little too late.

     The heavy demand to include some sort of instant replay in baseball has been ongoing, and in retrospective, could have been useful in certain games in the sports’ past.  However, due to some die-hard baseball fans (including Selig) and umpires in the World Umpires Association, the sport’s pure and old-fashioned regulations were to be untouched.

     However, in mid-May of this baseball season, umpires began to call too many mistakes concerning disputed home runs hit by Mets Outfielder Carlos Delgado on May 18th and Yankees Third Basemen Alex Rodriguez on May 21st.  In these particular instances, it was not until these umpires watched the tapes after the game where they noticed that their official rulings were wrong.

     Whether or not this little technological boost will make a difference in baseball, only time will tell.  What is for sure though is that Selig is not looking to expand instant replay past home run calls (such as for pitches and tag-outs).

     “My opposition to unlimited instant replay is still very much in play,” he said to Nightengale.

     So while behind-the-plate and foul-line umpires can sigh in relief, the MLB should still remember (an be a little ashamed) that it was the last national sport to bring in instant replay to assist officials. 

     Although baseball games may be a little longer with the new instant replay process (crew chief umpire waits for an “overturned” call on a disputed home run by a retired umpire/supervisor who is watching a broadcast video feed of the game in a media office), officials are human and cannot be perfect.

     When all is said and done, instant replay in the MLB is bound to shake up the nostalgic feel of baseball, just not as bad as how the use of anabolic steroids already changed the sport.

     At least Selig is starting to understand the accessible technology around him.

     To the MLB: Welcome to the 21st Century…It’s About Time.

By Sean Speirs

IMAGE FROM YAHOOSPORTS.COM

With Summer upon us and the never ending Basketball Playoffs almost over (what…you thought this would be a basketball column after last nights amazing comeback by the Celtics?  Don’t waste your time here and read a much funnier account of anything that I could do), America’s Pastime takes front and center in the sports world. Just recently, I have started watching a couple of games a week, mainly New York Mets games unfortunately. And I must say, this season just seems weird. Everything seems upside down. The Florida teams are over five-hundred and contending for division leads and the two Chicago teams are now at the center of the baseball universe by having the two best teams in baseball. Big name stars such as David Ortiz, Jake Peavy, Travis Hafner, Rafael Furcal, Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, and Albert Puljos have or are currently on the disabled list. Big market teams like the New York Mets, the Yankees, the Detroit Tigers, and the Dodgers are all struggling and underwhelming fans.

But disappointment should be expected, because if everything played out the way it was expected, why would people watch?

But I have been struggling more and more to find a reason to watch baseball this season. The game just seems slow and boring. Now that the Yankees are finally playing down to their pitching, there is nobody to hate anymore (even though Hank is doing his best George Steinbrenner impersonation).  The injuries are piling up and every pitcher seems to be unable to grasp the concept of holding a lead (or at least every Mets reliever…all three of them who came in after Johan Santana pitched seven shutout innings yesterday afternoon, let in a run, with Billy Wagner blowing his third straight save by giving up two runs in the ninth.  I thought he was supposed to be good.  What gives?)

And yet it goes deeper than that…

I know this article is probably 3-6 months too late (I don’t even remember when the Mitchell Report came out, it just seems so long ago, but still so present), but after the steroid scandal rocked the baseball world, the sport just hasn’t been the same for me.  Baseball lost so much credibility after the steroids scandal, I just don’t know anymore if my boyhood heroes were clean, and that bothers me. 

I remember watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battle it out for the home run record in the summer of 1998 and believing that these two players were not just ordinary human beings but super-humans capable of extradorinary feats of stregnth (sort of like Frank Costanza’s perfect world model for the Festivus celebration). 

This story always stuck in my mind.  My parents went away on a vacation when I was in Middle School to Paris and when he came back, the first thing he told me was that when he was in the airport, multiple people came up to him and asked him for his autograph thinking he was Mark McGwire.  Now, my father is not nearly as big as McGwire but his face looks similar and he was wearing a Cooperstown shirt (for all those who don’t know what Cooperstown is, its the Baseball Hall of Fame).  I always thought that was so cool and my father and I joked about it constantly. 

Now though, after it was revealed that McGwire possibly used steroids (and its not like his testimony in Congress was reassuring), that story embarrasses me because it connects my father to a disgraced baseball player and a dark time in the sport. 

The titans of baseball just don’t seem legitimate.  I mean, look at these guys.  They’re almost as big as football players, and in some cases, much bigger (I’m talking to you C.C. Sabbathia).  Maybe its the evolution of the athlete, but I don’t buy it.  Thats the thing I used to like about Baseball, these average looking guys would go out and destroy people with their intensity and sheer talent.  Now, the talent level is down, the testerone level is up, and the average fan can no longer connect to the star player on their team.  These guys are no longer average joe’s just playing some ball but highly pampered athletes with designer drugs. 

Mr. Selig, please do something!

But I guess baseball will come back strong.  There have always been scandals.  Pete Rose gambling on games, the White Sox throwing the 1919 World Series, and the Cocaine scandal of the 1980’s are just a few. 

Still I don’t know if baseball can recover from this and remain credible. 

BEARD

PS- And in a theater near you this summer: the NBA where “Scumbag ex-refs have more credibility than the Commish Happens”… I mean WOW, who would’ve thought that David Stern would’ve screwed this up?  Really?  You can’t do better than this?  Scumbag ex-ref is embarrasing you!  You gotta focus and keep your eyes on the prize!

Hey SportsZone fans and readers,

Welcome to “SZ: Questions of the Week”.

This feature on SportsZone’s webpage is where fans/readers will be able to answer sports questions that will be posted every week.  Readers will be able to give their opinion and might even debate with our very own panelists (who will answer the same questions), as they do on-air during the academic year at American University.  If you see a posted question that you want to take part in answering or see an absurd answer that you think is wrong,  let your voice be heard and leave a comment.  This is your chance to join the interaction and debate that is seen onSportsZone every week, only on ATV.

Thanks: Sean Speirs and the SportsZone Crew

Questions of the Week: Week 1

1) The NBA playoffs have finally reached the Conference Finals.  In the East, the Detroit Pistsons are up against the “Big 3’s” Boston Celtics (a great analysis of the matchup has been written by Sean “Beard” Wagman–see below).  Meanwhile, in the West, the Los Angeles Lakers are facing the defending champions San Antonio Spurs.  Of these two series, which teams will we see in the NBA Finals?

2) The Yankees are in an ongoing slump this season, capping it off with their recent loss to the New York Mets this past weekend.  Without A-Rod, the Yankees are 8-12 this season.  Should this team start to worry, or is this a repeat of the Yankees we saw last season (same type of slump, but came back strong to make it into the playoffs)?  Who is to blame, the players or new manager Joe Girardi?

3) Believe it or not, among all the other sports, the NHL is still going on and its Stanley Cup Finals time as the Detroit Red Wings (going for their fourth Cup since ’97)  take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (in the finals for the first time since ’92).  Who will be crowned victor in this epic series and why?