World Series 2015: More Umpires Calls, Fewer Video Replays Please


It’s the eve of the 2105 World Series. The Kansas City Royals take on the New York Mets in what could be a battle for the books.  One of the magical aspects of post-season baseball is that odd things tend to happen. A catcher who throws the ball back to a pitcher thousands of times during a season suddenly bounces the ball off the bat and a run scores. Reggie Jackson‘s hip mysteriously swells on one side to deflect a ball thrown in a rundown.

The difference between these two events is that the umpires had no recourse to video replay to determine if Reggie may just have bumped that ball on purpose. Whereas Martin Russell‘s toss back to the mound that struck the bat was replayed to ascertain whether the batter had interfered with the throw.

Much like, many years ago when playing sandlot baseball,  there was always an annoying kid who did that very same thing, banging you with his glove hoping you would sneeze or cough or whatever and come off the base for a nanosecond so he could claim he tagged you out.

This was an example of the usefulness of replays. But it isn’t always that cut and dried. There are instances where the availability of video replay is changing how baseball is played. The ‘spirit’ of the game is being overshadowed by nitpicking. Take the case of the pop-up slide.

Skilled base-runners have for decades slid into second or third base and popped up to a standing position. Sometimes there was a bit of arrogance especially when the fielder turned to apply the tag to a man who had not only beaten the throw, but was already standing on the base, brushing the dirt off his pants. Now pop-up slides on close plays often result in a review to see if the runner came off the base when popping up. This possibility in turn leads to fielders standing with the ball firmly pressed against the runner lest he step off the base. Much like, many years ago when playing sandlot baseball,  there was always an annoying kid who did that very same thing, banging you with his glove hoping you would sneeze or cough or whatever and come off the base for a nanosecond so he could claim he tagged you out.

The spirit of the game approach places more emphasis on the base runner beating the throw and/or avoiding the tag to steal the base. The replay approach affords managers an opportunity to examine the play in the hope of finding some minute discrepancy that perhaps played no role in the success or failure of the base steal attempt. Broad strokes versus nitpicking.

I don’t care who wins the World Series, I just hope for an entertaining series, the outcome of which is determined by skill, not technology.

Now don’t get me started on the idea that the ground can’t cause fumble!!

Different situations call for different decisions. In the dying seconds of a close game, a hockey referee will blow his whistle to stop play and the clock the instant the goaltender closes his hand on the puck. However earlier on in that same game, if the goalie catches the puck and then skates a bit to drop it for one of his wingers, the referee, in the interest of the flow of the game, will allow play to go on. An opposing coach could argue that the whistle should have been blown immediately and the face-off should be to the side of the goaltender. But they don’t; they understand that human judgement sometimes trumps technology

I don’t care who wins the World Series, I just hope for an entertaining series, the outcome of which is determined by skill, not technology.

Now don’t get me started on the idea that the ground can’t cause fumble!!

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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2 thoughts on “World Series 2015: More Umpires Calls, Fewer Video Replays Please

  1. Great post, DC! Resonates with this life long baseball fan. I think the “replay” biz slows down the game and messes with its tempo. Yes, it’s nice when the replay favors your team. But I still think it wreaks havoc with some of game’s subtleties. Soon, it’ll be like football where seemingly every other play is flagged and we spend a chunk of time reviewing it, listening to the gasbags give their usually erroneous takes, watch sideline shots and promos of upcoming network shows.
    Even though our Red Sox are rightfully playing golf (or maybe looking for new addresses), I am enjoying this post season. Royals versus Mets should mean entertaining baseball. I just wish Vin Scully was calling the games.
    Take 2 and go to right!

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