Replay Actually Hastens the Game

September 4, 2008 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

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(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Last night I got to witness some history while watching the Rays host the Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Instant replay was used on a homerun call for the first time. Alex Rodriguez hit a bomb (his 549th career, passing Mike Schmidt for 12th all-time) off of Troy Percival (after the umpired blinked on a ball over the inside corner that should’ve been strike three but that’s another story) in the top of the 9th inning that traveled over the foul pole but hit to the left of the foul marker on the back wall of the Trop.

The shot was called fair pretty quickly and Rays catcher Dinoner Navarro, watching it the entire way, immediately asked for instant replay. Rays manager Joe Maddon came out to talk to the umpires. “Being unsure of the process, I started with [home-plate umpire Greg Gibson], and I said, ‘I can’t really tell if it’s fair or foul,'” Maddon said. “He said it was [Runge’s] call, so I went down there and said, ‘Brian, listen man, I’m not jumping on you right now. That ball is high and that pole is not high enough. And I would like you guys to talk about it.'”

The umpires all agreed that it was fair but figured they better use the equipment to make sure they got the call right and hopefully validate it.

A miniscule 2:15 passed and the umpire signaled it was a homerun. They got the call right. They got it right in two minutes and fifteen seconds. Rodriguez and Navarro both applauded the use of instant replay.

“Sometimes it takes longer for the manager to get kicked out of the game,” said Navarro, who complimented the process by calling it “perfect.”

“It was pretty time-efficient, and that was good,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes they meet for four or five minutes. Today probably saved us about four or five minutes, and they got it right. They feel good about it and we definitely feel good about it.”

Rodriguez and Navaro both hit it on the head. Exactly the reason I have been arguing for instant replay. Replay did everything I dreamt it would. It saved time and moved the game on, it got the call right, and technology validated what human umpires have been doing for years and it made them look good in the process.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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