The recent news of Major League Baseball approving countless amounts of new “challengeable scenarios” may be good for teams, but it is big trouble for fans. Replay rules have officially invaded baseball. How often have you watched a football game and said to yourself, “I wish they would hurry up with that replay.” How many basketball games with five seconds left have you seen take half an hour because they review every last touched ball, shots, and timeout calls?
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Baseball has a hard enough time convincing fans it is a clean and genuine game as of late, and it will now have to find a way for fans to put up with the elongated replays that will inevitably come this season. Each team is allowed one replay; each team is allowed an additional replay if the first one is successfully overturned. There are replays allowed by umpires after the 7th inning if a team no longer has any challenges.
If you have been to a game, or seen one on TV, where the umpires do go into the tunnel to review a play, it is painstakingly boring. I am as big a baseball fan as there is, but there is already so much down time in between innings, at-bats, and pitches. This is just another opportunity for fans to get up out of their seat and leave. Increasing the average time of a baseball game (which will 100% happen) isn’t bad if it is because of more baseball being played. The problem is that the time added is idle and makes the fans bored.
There are very few things more boring than sitting and waiting for an umpire to come back and state the outcome of a call. While it may be worth the wait if your team benefits with an extra base or even scores, the overall effect will be negative for baseball fans as a whole.
There is such a small attention span for fans in today’s market. There are games and sports on every channel. Social media is everywhere on and off the field. Without something going on, fans are left to sit in their seats and look at their smartphones… which is probably what half of them are doing anyways. After their battery dies in the 4th inning from taking photos, updating their status, and playing games after every third out, there will be nothing left for them to do after the 7th inning when the replays are likely to be longer and more recurring.
What happened to the one sport where human error still mattered? If an umpire makes a bad call, your team has to eat it and fight back to persevere. Now, they can whine to the crew officials and have them spend five minutes seeing if there is indisputable evidence to overturn the call. They might as well have a CSI forensics team at games to get these calls right down to a science.
When my team gets the benefit of the doubt on a bad call, I smile and thank the Baseball Gods. When it goes against my team, I ask them why they can’t just leave me alone. Now when my team gets the upper hand of a bad call, I will wait for the opposing manager to challenge the play and get it overturned.
I would much rather have bad calls and missed calls remain in the game and go both ways rather than have every call subject to review. By being politically correct with every call made, it is only a matter of time before QuesTec is installed behind every backstop and home plate umpires are no longer needed to make calls on balls and strikes. Hopefully I am wrong about all of this happening and not a single manager challenges a play in 2014. Fans would be happier but more upset at the same time – their team may get a call turned their way but they won’t have any more reasons to yell at the umpires.