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Instant Replay Is A Terrible Idea


I'm not going to sit here and bitch about Luis Valbuena being called out at third when he was clearly safe, because there wouldn't be a point, and this team has more to gain from losing than winning anyway. It was a terrible call that, despite Sam Perlozzo's outrage, actually served the greater good, at least as far as the M's are concerned.

But let's pretend this had happened in a different context. What if it were, say, today's Phillies game instead? A game that mattered? In terms of Win Expectancy, the difference between Valbuena being called safe and Valbuena being called out is 35.3%. That is, the WE is 44.5% with a man on third, and 9.2% with one down and the bases empty. The run expectancy difference is 1.2 runs (1.5 to 0.3). That's an umpire singlehandedly robbing a team of the probable tying run with a bad call at third base. If you thought Perlozzo and Riggleman were angry today, just imagine how they would've reacted were the Mariners playing for something.

Why should we have to accept that this sort of thing is just "part of the game"? I know calls have been up to the umpires since the birth of the sport, but instant replay has only been available for a little while, now, and if the purpose of having umpires is to try and get as many calls right as possible, why are people so reluctant to take the next logical step towards accomplishing that goal? Why are people so afraid of instant replay? Given how every baseball fan I've ever talked to has had his share of stories about how his team got screwed by a bad call, shouldn't a more accurate system be, I dunno, universally embraced? Seems like the only people who have a right to hate cameras are the umpires themselves, but even then, I imagine it'd be better to have your bad call overturned than to have your bad call cost some team a run, a game, or even a season. I'd rather look dumb for five minutes than look dumb for a month.

Baseball is a competition between two teams. At the end of the day, the team that makes fewer mistakes will wind up the victor. With that in mind, why would we ever want to allow for some margin of error from a third party? What purpose does that serve? People can talk all they want about how the want to protect the "integrity of the game" or whatever, but I guarantee you they're not talking like that when they lose a baserunner to a blown call.

Just because major bad calls don't happen that often doesn't mean they aren't a problem, or that measures shouldn't be taken to minimize the frequency with which they occur. A call like today's taking place in an important game could very easily mean the difference between a team making the playoffs and watching from home. Doesn't that seem like the sort of thing we should try to prevent before it happens? This isn't a hypothetical. This is probability. And the longer you wait, the better the chances of some baseball team ending up mighty sore.

Choose replay. It's good for the game, and it's good for the soul.