With the new instant replay rules implemented by Joe Torre and Major League Baseball, teams will now be able to have their scoreboards showing instant replays of close calls. If you don’t go to live games, this doesn’t mean much to you, but for the people who are watching a game in person it means they can give the umpires their take on the play.
Controversial calls always have been and always will be a part of the game of baseball. Up until 1976, bang-bang plays were permitted to be shown on video screens in stadiums. After a Yankees-Orioles baseball game that season, MLB decided that close calls would no longer be allowed to be shown on video scoreboards.
I think replays should be allowed to be shown no matter how close or how bad the call may have been. Safety for the players, coaches, and umpires, can be a concern if a call goes the wrong way however. In the 2012 playoffs, the Atlanta Braves were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves were victimized by the infamous infield fly rule (which occurred halfway into the outfield!). The fans reaction was to litter the field with bottles, trash, and anything they could throw.
Granted that was a playoff game, but it also happened without the Braves showing a replay on the scoreboard. Imagine what would have happened if the play was shown over and over again in front of the already rowdy crowd.
The umpires won’t have much say in challenged calls this season, as plays will be reviewed by officials in New York. The umps might still want to stay in the tunnels until the fans are done reacting to any bad calls that are overturned, or not overturned, if they react the same way as the infield fly incident.
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Close plays on the jumbo tron only ignite fans’ disapproval of a call. The home team more than likely will not show any replays that would go against them. This means that most replays will be in favor of the home team. Either way, umpires will still be blamed for the outcome and ruling of a play. Luckily they do not wear microphones and announce to the crowd exactly what happened. They only owe explanations to each manager.
Adding instant replay to baseball scoreboards may seem like a small detail, but it will give managers a chance to see plays that might have been missed and challenge them more quickly than it takes a team official to relay that same information down to the field. Managers may rely on other coaches and players to let them know what happened, but now they will be able to see for themselves.
Hopefully the added replays will not lower the number of manager arguments with an umpire. Few things can be as entertaining as seeing a scuffle on the field and the umpire tossing out a manager.