Instant Replay in Baseball

July 28, 2007

I was watching the Tigers-Angels game earlier. It was 3-3 in the 8th inning when Garrett Anderson hit a home run to right field, which was aided by a kid reaching over the railing to catch a ball that otherwise would have been off the scoreboard.  Jim Leyland came out to protest, the umpires huddled, and the home run stood as originally called.

The point turned out to be moot as the Angels went on to score several more runs and win 10-3, but the incident underscored the shortcomings of the current umpiring system. It’s sometimes too hard for umpires standing in the infield to see whether a ball is really a home run or not.

A similar incident happened last Friday night at Fenway Park, when J.D. Drew hit a first-inning home run off the front of the monster seats that fell back into the field of play. The umpires called it an RBI double, Manny Ramirez was out at the plate because he slowed up thinking the ball was gone, and Terry Francona was ejected for loudly disagreeing.

And there are other recent incidents too (a ball off the wall in Cleveland a few weeks back was called a catch, for example). Why not implement some sort of limited instant replay in baseball to avoid these kind of situations? If the announcers in the booth and everyone watching on TV can tell that the call was a mistake, the umpires should be able to get it right too. It’s not exactly like the game’s brisk pace would be upset, as is the common complaint with replay in football; we’re talking about baseball here.