The Time Has Come for TV Replays in Baseball
Last night in Detroit, Rays outfielder Justin Ruggiano came flying around third and slid hard into home plate, avoiding the sweep tag of Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila. Ruggiano slid past the plate, spun around and nailed the plate with his foot just before Avila went to tag him again. (The second tag was further proof Avila missed him the first time around.) Ruggiano arose, pleased he had tied the score at 1-1, only to see the home plate umpire call him out.
Rays manager Joe Maddon, having been the victim of too many bad calls lately, rushed out of the dugout to inform the ump he was â€œfucking wrong.â€ The third time he said it, Maddon got the heave ho. It was the third time this season Maddonâ€™s been tossed after arguing an important (and wrong) call.
For us viewers at home, the TV crew showed us the play every which way but sideways, and from every angle it was crystal clear that Ruggiano was safe. But baseball commissioner Bud Selig, a stickler for tradition and for championing the â€œhuman elementâ€ in baseball, refuses to allow instant replay to correct calls, with the exception of judging whether a ball goes over the fence or not, or whether the ball is fair or foul when it passes the pole. The reasoning is that itâ€™s important to get the call right, but only in those situations.
Well, getting the call right surely was important for the Rays against the Tigers last night. All that call did was cost Tampa Bay the game, and now the Rays have to play three in a row against the red-hot Red Sox.
Trumpets should blare throughout the land: in a world of Blackberrys and iPods and revolutionary electronics, itâ€™s time for baseball to drag itself into the 21st Century. Give each manager two shots at challenging a call, the way itâ€™s done in professional football. If he throws the red flag and heâ€™s right, he gets his second shot. If he throws the red flag and heâ€™s wrong, thatâ€™s it for the game. The goal here is to make sure the most important plays of the game are called correctly. This is something that can be accomplished right now â€” today. Itâ€™s something baseball ought to do â€” today.