Let’s Go To The Videotape

According to a recent report on ESPN.com, major league baseball is planning to experiment with instant replay in the Arizona Fall League

In the immortal words of broadcaster Warner Wolf, let’s go to the videotape.

This past week at Yankee Stadium, both the Mets’ Carlos Delgado and the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez were denied home runs by erroneous umpire rulings. Delgado hit a ball off the lower portion of the left-field foul pole. The third-base umpire originally signalled home run, but was over-ruled. Replays clearly showed the ball striking the foul pole.

Two nights later, A-Rod hit a shot off a stairway in right-center field and bounced back on the field. The umpires ruled it was a double, although replay showed the ball had cleared the wall.

And in Houston, a ball hit by the Cubs’ Geovany Soto was ruled in play although replays showed it had cleared the wall. Soto managed to turn his hit into an inside-the-park home run.

A quick look at videotape would have helped umpires to determine all three hits were actually home runs.

Jeffrey Maier Game
A blown call in the 1996 playoffs helped the Yankees win the World Series that year. In game one of the ALCS against the Orioles, rookie Derek Jeter hit a shot to right-field, where a 12-year-old named Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and deflected the ball into the stands, left. Baltimore right-fielder Tony Tarasco insisted he would have caught the ball if not for fan interference, but umpire Richie Garcia ruled it a home run, and the Yankees went on to win the game,5-4, in 11 innings.

Baseball should adopt the instant replay — for home run calls only. Leave the rest of the calls in the hands of the umpires.

Other sports use replay with varying degrees of effectiveness. The NFL has been using some form of instant replay since 1986, with mixed results.

The problem with the NFL is that too many plays can be reviewed, oftentimes resulting in long stoppages and disrupting the flow of the game. The NFL should keep it to touchdowns and turnovers.

The NBA reviews are limited to shots at the end of a quarter, and are quickly resolved by officials on the floor.

The NHL may have the best system. The league only reviews goals, with a video replay judge on board in Toronto to rule on questionable goal-scoring plays.

Canadian football, college football and tennis also use some form of replay system.

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