Would Review Ruin the Game?


Chris Carlson / AP

I been hearing this slight buzz in the air all day, and it is not dimming in its intensity one bit. This mind numbing grumble that has started to fester after another game play situation in which some fans and media are now calling for a change in the protectors of the rules of the game we have all come to love in one way or  another.

Hidden behind the premise that it would reverse the tyranny of the omnipotent ones who now make split second decisions and ill-advised judgment calls that tend to effect thousands of people immediately need a  rules revival to “save the game.” That for some reason in the last 50 years of evolving technologies and the more the fan is interwoven into the fabric of the sport with more information and more knowledge on the sport that we are now short-changing ourselves with antiqued rules systems.

Even the slightest notion of  play calling imperfection is now instantly blared far and wide for all to consider, and judged via instant replay or even slow-motion camera work that the human eye can not comprehend or even imagine before its invention. And not this behemoth of innovation might finally be beckoning at the clubhouse doors of this sport. Is the game that far removed from simple reality that we need to institute a check and balance system to challenge or even reverse a decision that has been made by someone within a few feet of the play in question, but not fashioned with this technology at their disposal?

Does the world really need to see this technology enter the game at a inhuman pace and embrace a new revolution of red flags or booth reviews that could damage the integrity of the game and men who officiate it forever. I am like everyone else and get frazzled and upset when a complete call is missed or even an angle unseen by an umpire leads to a bad decision. But will this really restore the game to its glory, or will the umpires always be peeking over their shoulders at the dugouts wondering if a challenge or even a heated discussion will be evoked by his decision.

Here is where I might either fall into line with some people, or be called out for my innocence, but I actually like the way the game is slowly revolving and evolving right now.  Surely the game on the field is not going slower than our instant replays show us. But what solutions can be developed that protect the simplicity of the game without damaging integrity in the end. I can envision a system that could be rationally fair to test the validity of  bringing up a challenge  in reference to a hard hit ball down the baselines, or a missed tag-up before advancing on the base paths.

Kathy Willens / AP

But to think we can totally mesh and stitch the game into a few more camera angles  and reference points and try and divulge the real truth on base stealing calls and other currently off limits nuances of the game is going totally ballistic toward over involving the game with technology. there has to be a limit. There has to be a subtle change to the rules or anarchy will reign down on the game. Sure I have seen the blown calls in two games this week, but the MLB Umpires still get the calls right more than any other organized sport in the world..period.

Because of our present technologies, we can cut down, isolate players, and even slow down the motion in a play to milliseconds and totally transform a reaction that takes a flash memory of  instant recognition and human response to make a correct hand signal to conclude the play. I do foresee a system, like the current home run and fan interference review program might be able to be included to showcase calls down the line. Some say it will bring out a sense of distrust in the umpires if a call is mis-called, but in my opinion, I would have more respect for the men in blue to acknowledge a potential error and correct it.

But that takes the potential bang-bang out of the game, and also opens the door for more outlandish interpretations by the media and fans. Let’s take the play last night that was clearly a blown calls as an example in a new review situation. Twins catcher Joe Mauer hits a blistering ball down the leftfield line towards Yankee outfielder Melky Cabrera. The Umpire in his quest to get the call correct might have missed the ball smacking the glove and instead saw the ball bouncing on the line and called it a foul ball by the correct interpretation of the rules on the play ” he saw”.

Let’s move forward with a potential review system and that the leftfield line umpire would make a preliminary call, but immediately call time and consult with the Umpire Crew Chief and the other members of the crew and they can make a group decision to review the play to gather the correct information to make a conclusive call. At that point it can either be reviewed, or his call will stand as called on the field. And even if they do go to the review booth and see the same play from a few different angles and a slowed down video to get it correct the first time.

Even if they employ a system like this to get the call right the first time, they open another Pandora’s box that might not go over so well with the fans. Say Mauer’s play was considered a error on Cabrera and he was awarded the base. Who is to say it would not have been a double, or that he would have been out trying to stretch the play into a double. By getting the play correct by the visual evidence, you have taken away some of the special traits of the game by instant decision making by the players.  Will we also have to induce a new set of rewards for the overturning or even correct interpretation of a call.

Jae C Hong / AP

If base runners are involved, and might have scored on the play in question, doesn’t that bring about another set of questions and searches for solutions to make the first decision correspond correctly with the flow of the game. Would we award an additional base only, or will that also be reviewable to see if the runner had passed third before the fielder touched the ball, which would mean he could have scored without a throw to the plate. Pandora is giggling profusely somewhere in the notion of all the turmoil this could cause the game.

I would love to see something developed, but it will have to be done with a precision thought process and an astute sense of impending justice towards the protecting the integrity of the game. I know I am qualified to make opinions and rational suggestions, but that revising of the rules is not my thing. And no matter how it is corrected, or even developed, someone will find a fault line in it after time. And then we will have to deduce a process all over again to correct the new flaws and cracks in the rulebook. Or maybe we can just accept the fact that the game is flawed and has a huge hole within itself that might never be sealed to please all of us.

Jae C Hong

Maybe the best solution is to just love and view the game as we did in our younger days. That if you saw Johnny miss the hubcap that was second base, you tagged him out and you kept playing after a minute or two of arguing. The simplicity of this game is the main reason so many of us loved it in the first place. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. Maybe the problem really is as we grow older and learn better ways to do even the simple things, we want to change things. Me, I still want to just pitch the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball……..then go for a soda and pizza and talk about the game.


Cliff – for calls like the blown one in the Yankees-Twins game, I can’t help but wonder if the technology used in tennis to check whether balls are in or out could be used to check on whether balls are fair or not. I agree with not wanting to go too crazy with reviews so that it impacts the pace of the game but something needs to be done – the quality of the umping seems to be going down hill.


I did not even know of that method was being used in tennis, but that is a firm example of the kind of technology or direction we could go with it in the future.
I sometimes think with a way of getting instant determination out of our advances, we could maybe also find a way to make game a wee bit shorter.
But that is going out on a limb, and i am not sure it would support any weight at this time.
I guess clearer heads and smarter minds will prevail in this round.

Rays Renegade


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