On Friday, July 15, 2016, Major League Baseball put the clamps down on managers using instant replay to argue balls and strikes with umpires. A memo to the managers from Joe Torre said: “This highly inappropriate conduct is detrimental to the game and must stop immediately.”
I have a question: Has Major League Baseball lost its mind?
Before I continue with my rant, we should qualify what was said. The memo was to prevent managers from using instant replays when confronting umpires. The memo went on to say: “Although disagreements over ball and strike calls are natural, the prevalence of manager ejections simply cannot continue. This conduct not only delays the game, but it also has the propensity to undermine the integrity of the umpires on the field.”
Okay, here’s the deal. By instituting instant replays in 2008, MLB effectively tossed out the “integrity of the umpires on the field.” The instant replay review itself has delayed an already slow game, heightened the anger of managers and fans alike, as well as put the umps on the defense.
All this was inevitable, and MLB knew it. At least I hope they did. The use of instant replay in baseball opened a Pandora’s Box of problems that would forever change the game…for the worst. Back in 2008, when instant replay was used only on home run calls, then commissioner Bud Selig told the New York Times: “I believe that the extraordinary technology that we now have merits the use of instant replay on a very limited basis. The system we have in place will ensure that the proper call is made on home run balls and will not cause a significant delay in the game.”
Well, look what we have now.
Here’s my next question: What was so wrong with the game before that we had to resort to using instant replay?
The answer is: Nothing. The game was wonderful. Umpire mistakes were part of the game. Not only has arguing with umpires been an exciting part of the game, it’s also one of the things that has set it apart from all the others.
Down through history, managers like the late Billy Martin and the late Earl Weaver have entertained us with on field antics directed towards umpires. What about the famous arguments by the manager with the most ejections of all time, Bobby Cox? Check below about some of the entertaining moments from the great career of Weaver:
Through the use of the “extraordinary technology” called instant replay, the arguments and ejections have increased. So, what’s the point?
I love Joe Torre, but as an executive of MLB, he answers to the owners. I’ll bet he knew what was coming, too.
Here’s what I think is coming next: In the not-too-distant future, umpires will be completely replaced by “extraordinary technology.” Every out or safe call at a base, or catch or no catch, will be done via someone in the booth in New York. Balls and strikes will be called by the same system you now see on ESPN games. The “box” on the strike zone you see on your television will become the home-plate umpire.
Think I’m wrong? Well, I hope so! The good news is I will be long-gone before I see the game I love ruined by idiots and “extraordinary technology.”