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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Instant Replay

While watching last night's Pirates/Dodgers game, the "instant replay" issue reared its head. In the top of the eighth with a runner on first and no one out, the Dodgers' Juan Uribe hit a sinking fly to Pirates' left fielder Jose Tabata. Tabata slid and made the apparent catch, got up and fired the ball in to Walker, who relayed to first to double off Matt Kemp. If Tabata doesn't make the catch, then Kemp easily makes third, and in a tie game late with runners at the corners and no one out, LA in all likelyhood comes up with at least a run.

The replay showed that the ball hit the ground just before winding up in Tabata's glove, which of course, brought up instant replay. Should it be used to overturn incorrect calls by the umpires?

There's a couple of issues here. One, is this a solution in search of a problem? Major League unpires are generally very, very good, and almost always make the correct call (of course, there are exceptions). Overall, during the course of a season, those blown calls will tend to average out. For example, on Sunday, Andrew McCutcheon made a diving grab in center that was called a trap, although the replay showed he caught the ball cleanly.

The other issue is what do you do with the baserunners? If no one is on, its fairly easy, award the batter first base if the replay shows the catch was actually a trap. However, what about the baserunners? If we allow field calls to be overturned based on instant replay, a baserunner would benefit by attempting to advance on any sinking liner or fly. If the ball is caught, he's likely to be doubled off anyway, while if its a trap, he's likely to get the extra base or possibly even score. As the game stands now, a prudent baserunner holds up to see if the ball is actually ruled a catch or not before attempting to advance or retreat.

Instant replay overrules are likely to slow the game down, and would more than likely result in very few overturned calls. I say leave it out. But then again, I'm a purist. I can't stand the DH, I like bunting, basestealing, and pitcher duels, and I'm against mediocre fielding shortstops who start because they can hit homeruns. So there.

Oh, and the Buccos are over .500, two games out and in third place in mid-may. WOOOO!


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