Baseball has a rich heritage. Decades of characters playing Doubleday’s game with very few rule major changes, the egregious Designated Hitter rule in the American League being perhaps the obvious exception. The game takes longer to play so there are often calls to adjust the pace of the game by using clocks. Something I have always strongly disagreed with. I am all in favour of moving things along, but I have some other suggestions. Now, when it comes to close calls, with technological advancements, they use video replay to get things right, but that has had another effect on the way the game used to be played.
On Saturday evening the Mets and Dodgers played the second game of their NLDS. In the bottom of the seventh inning, first base runner Chase Utley of the Dodgers broke for second on a hard-hit infield ground ball. With little chance of getting there ahead of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, he slide to break up the double play. Nothing that has not been down a million times before. Tejada went down with what was later determined to be a broken leg, Utley was called out and left the field.
In a new twist on baseball, when these things happen the players in the dugout make a dash for the clubhouse television to check out the replays from umpteen different angles. It was decided that the play warranted review as Tejada may not have stepped on second, close but no cigar, as it were. Sure enough upon review Utley was called safe and took his place on second base as Tejada was carted off the field.
There is a concept of the ‘neighborhood’ when it comes to plays at second base. An umpire will cut a little slack to a player awaiting a throw at second while the runner is bearing down on him.If he leaves a bit early, no big deal. It all works out over the course of season. But in this situation there was no throw, it was a race to the base, so no neighborhood rule.
Not that long ago umpires, human beings, made final calls without replays. In this case the umpire was in position to make the call, and did so to the best of his ability. However no one can see all the angles that those many cameras provide.
I think there is a place for video review in baseball; is it a home-run or a long foul ball, did he trap it or catch it cleanly? But a review of this sort of fast bang-bang play changes the game from tradition to nit-picking. Leave technological advances to medicine and let umpires call baseball games.