Let's go to the tape


By Childs Walker

Too often in this life, we ignore chances to make modest improvements because we're waiting for the perfect solution. I'm glad baseball didn't make that mistake with instant replay.

Instead, commissioner Bud Selig implemented limited replay as soon as he reached agreements with his players and umpires. If the technology saves even one blown call down the stretch this season, it was worth it.

Some baseball men felt replay was introduced hastily. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said that if technological kinks haven't been worked out, "they are going to set themselves up for some embarrassing situations."

He could be right. We won't know until we see the system in use.

But Trembley's worries strike me as a hypothetical layered onto another hypothetical.

For one, the technology involved doesn't seem that complex. The country's other major leagues use video replay without many snafus. From watching thousands of games on television, we know it's usually pretty clear on tape whether a home run has gone fair or foul.

And frankly, how many home runs are borderline, either in clearing the fence or sneaking inside the foul pole? We're not talking about the NFL, in which replay calls bring delays to almost every game.

This is more like NBA replay, which helps the officials tell if a buzzer-beater has, in fact, beaten the buzzer. Such shots aren't the norm, and the tape tends to offer a clear answer when they do occur. So we don't hear too much sound and fury about replay.

In baseball, most playoff series pass without a single controversial home run call. And if a backup system can prevent a freak play such as the Jeffrey Maier-touched home run that put the Orioles in a 1996 playoff hole, well, you won't hear me complaining.

Upon further review, why rush?


By Bill Ordine

So professional baseball has been played for, what, about 140 years, give or take, and has managed to get along without the technological assistance commonly referred to as "instant replay."

Now, suddenly, Major League Baseball has to have instant replay and it has to have it immediately. By immediately, we're talking yesterday.

Most fans are aware that replay will be applied only to home runs - fair or foul, over the fence or still in play, fan interference or not. And it might be a good idea in concept, but what's not a good idea is the timing.

We're told the technology is in place in every ballpark, the central command "war room" in New York is all set and everything is a green light. Right. Ever worked someplace where brand-new technology was introduced?

Seriously, how about starting with spring training? A better idea would have been to put video review in a few spring training ballparks so umpires could get a feel for how this is supposed to work. Give those "war room" guys some practice, too.

Then there's the procedure for when it's used. Only umpire crew chiefs can ask for a review. How unsatisfying will it be if a manager feels there's a questionable homer and the crew chief feels otherwise?

To illustrate how even some managers are in the dark, the Chicago Cubs' Lou Piniella asked, "Do you throw out a red handkerchief or something?"

So at that point in the season when games are particularly crucial for many teams, baseball is going to trot out something it has avoided for the past 15 years or so during the stretch run and playoffs.

And here's the kicker: MLB is so confident in the system, it's not guaranteeing it will be back for 2009.

That trepidation alone suggests baseball should have waited on this.

What do you think? Get in on the argument by commenting below.