Instant Replay – Helpful or A Waste of Time?
The National Football League uses instant replay and has for years. It’s not perfect but it gets things right most of the time. The National Basketball Association is using instant replay as well. It started off with just a couple of things that could be checked but it’s expanding to include more and more.
The National Hockey League also uses instant replay and although there have been some tough decisions; no one really minds the process. But when it comes to Major League Baseball, I need to say that the instant replay system is bad at best and a complete joke at worst.
Let’s break this down. In the NFL, a coach throws a red flag onto the field and the referee talks to the coach about what they want to challenge. If the play is challengeable, the referee goes under the hood and watches the multiple replay angles themselves and determines if the call was right or wrong. Sometimes it takes longer than it should, but most calls take under 2 minutes and because football is a stop and start sport, the challenge doesn’t really disrupt the rhythm of the game.
The NBA, after expanding the amount of calls that can be challenged, has a system very similar to the NFL. The major difference is that the coach cannot ‘demand’ the referees look at the instant replay. However, if a call is questionable in the mind of any of the 3 on-court officials, they can take a look at a monitor located at the scorer’s table and determine if the right call was made.
The NHL has a slightly different system in that the replays are viewed by a team in Toronto for every game, every night. That means that the same people who determine if the referee was correct on the East coast also determine the fate of a questionable call on the West coast. Basically it gives ultimate power to the people manning the monitors at NHL Headquarters. This system would seemingly be the most complicated, however the NHL has done a tremendous job of getting the calls right nearly every time, as well as doing it very quickly. My estimation would put the total time of the replay at less than 2 minutes in most cases.
And then we get to Major League Baseball. By the looks of things, the MLB suits in charge of instant replay have tried to emulate the success of the other three major North American leagues but my opinion has them failing miserably.
First, a close play happens. Maybe it’s a potential catch that was called a trapped ball, or a play at the plate, or maybe even it was just a bang-bang call at first; but the manager comes jogging out of the dugout. In years past, fans would get excited to potentially see some screaming, arms waving, and if we were lucky, maybe even some dirt kicking. But now, the manager approaches the umpire who made the questionable call and strikes up a conversation. “How’s the wife? Great weather we are having isn’t it? Man this game is dragging on.” And the umpire pretends that he is interested. Meanwhile, the bench coach is on the phone with someone in the clubhouse who is watching replays of the close call. The manager kills some time, often close to a minute before getting a thumbs up or down from the bench coach.
With thumbs up, the manager officially challenges the play, then the umpires go and make a call to ‘Baseball Control’ or whatever they are calling it and another couple of minutes elapse before they are told if the umpire on the field got it right or not. However, if the bench coach doesn’t give the thumbs up, the manager, after talking to the umpire for a minute, just turns around and walks back to the dugout. It looks ridiculous, is a huge waste of time, and doesn’t put any pressure on the manager to decide to challenge or not.
If it were up to me, the only things that could be challenged in baseball would be whether or not the ball left the ballpark in fair play. Homerun or no homerun. That’s all that would be up for debate and we wouldn’t have games lasting even longer with this terrible challenge system.
What do you think?
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