Thursday, April 17, 2014

After further review

On Saturday, during the Red Sox-Yankees game, a New York baserunners was clearly off the second base bag when he was tagged out. What's more, a television camera had a great view of the play, which was stopped on the video at the precise moment. The Red Sox appealed, and lost.

A day later, the Red Sox were the loser in another replay decision. That prompted John Farrell to have one of his better explosions, which led to an ejection, and led to a fine. Free speech sometimes isn't so free.

Think this is an argument against instant replay in baseball and in all sports? Think again.

Replay is here to stay, and it's just fine with me and with most fans.

When television first started broadcasting sports events, fans at home could complain about umpire calls just like the ones at the game. And they did. When instant replay began to pop up, starting with the Army-Navy football game in 1963, those same fans often were even more sure about botched calls. Granted, there weren't many of them, as the umpires and officials generally did their work well and in a professional manner. In addition, television wasn't so ever-present for a few decades after replay was introduced. Not all games were even televised, and fewer cameras meant fewer good camera angles.

But times have changed as the economics of our games have changed. Every game is on television in one form or another, and cameras are everywhere. We have gotten used to the idea that big mistakes can be made by officials, that they are obvious to everyone, and that they can be corrected. Slowly but surely, accuracy continues to go up via replay.

That's not to say there aren't problems here. Some mistakes just have to be accepted, like a quick whistle in football, because there's no way of correcting them. The system for review takes some trial and error to perfect, as the Red Sox will tell you. And it's tough to strike the right balance between how often to use the technology and when to leave it alone.

The stakes have become enormous in pro sports, and anything to make the game more fair and just is just fine with me.

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