November 6, 2007

Baby Steps Toward 1999: Baseball Considers Video Technology

Major League Baseball voted to consider the possibility of maybe occasionally using 10-year old technology for a small number of their plays. Welcome to last century, boys!

A story on tells us that at the winter meetings the general managers voted 25-5 to investigate the possibility of using video replay to review controversial home run calls. And if five of the general managers can’t even get on board with that noncommittal, limited scope idea, then it’s probably wise to take this slowly.

Sounding very eloquent, Houston General Manager Ed Wade warns of the dangers of the slipperly slope down to accurate umpiring:

The umpires were more right than wrong 99.9 percent of the time,” he said. “With the increased time of the game, at some point you’ll get to a stage where managers are almost compelled to challenge and that’s why I voted against it. I thought the guys on the committee made some very good points. There’s a lot of validity to what they had to say. I just think that if you’re going to do something like that on a limited scope, it doesn’t stay limited.

So, let’s see here: 30 teams, 162 games in the regular season, two teams per game is 2430 total games to umpire. If the umps are right more than they are wrong only 99.9 percent of the time, that means that about two games and a half games per season, they’re getting more than half of the calls wrong. And that doesn’t count the postseason.

Of course, it’s easy not to care about the accuracy of home run calls when you’re the GM of the Astros. What does the commish have to say on the matter?

I don’t like instant replay because I don’t like all the delays,” Selig said. “I think it sometimes creates as many problems or more than it solves. But I am willing to say we’ll at least talk about this if people want to talk about it. I’m going to let the general managers discuss it, let them come back and make recommendations. No, I’m not a big advocate of instant replay.

He’s got a point, but I think that baseball should give it a go anyway. I mean, other sports have managed to survive.

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