Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter is a proponent of instant replay. When it really got cranking a few seasons ago, he admitted it would need to be tweaked and so forth, but ultimately that it was good for the game (quote courtesy of Eduardo Encina, Baltimore Sun):
I know it’s not going to be perfect. I think we all need to be patient with it. I think when it’s all said and done, it will not slow the games down in its finished product. There are some unknowns there. I was for all they were willing to put in.
There’s one tweak I would make. As opposed to giving teams challenges as the system currently does, I’d make it more like College Football’s “eye in the sky” routine. If there’s a play that the umpire in the booth or in New York thinks should get looked at further, he buzzes down to the crew chief and they review it. In essence, every play is reviewed.
But one thing in which I’m not in favor is reviewing judgement calls. Between covering the Orioles and Team USA not being involved, I’m not paying much attention the the World Cup. However I did happen to glance at a game yesterday morning (France vs. Australia), and I noticed the referee stopping play to review whether or not a penalty kick should be awarded.
The play wasn’t even whistled as a foul, and the game went on. After awhile the ref I presume got word from someone to stop play, and they reviewed it. And the official ruled that in fact an infraction had taken place, and in the penalty area at that. France was awarded a penalty kick.
To me, that’s a judgement call. And quite honestly, that makes this proponent or replay question whether or not the system might be starting to go too far. I’ve never been in favor of reviewing judgement calls, which in baseball would be balls and strikes, check swings, etc. Not only would that slow the game down too much, but in my view it makes it so that the human element is further removed.
Again, to me it’s like reviewing balls and strikes. Or in football it would be like being able to review holding or pass interference. Or heck…could you imagine if basketball allowed for such reviews?! Yeah hey ref, I’d like to challenge on the basis that Player X was in the lane for longer than three seconds. That’s ludicrous. As would be reviewing balls and strikes in baseball, or even balks. Could you imagine that? – All balks are seemingly controversial; so every one of them would end up getting reviewed.
Again, I’m in favor of some form of instant replay. In a sport like soccer obviously you should be able to review potential goals to see if the ball crossed the line and so forth. But to stop play after the fact to determine if a penalty kick is necessary? That’s a bit over the line for me.
And my concern is that in some manner, this type of thing will catch on in other sports if it growingly becomes popular. All it might take would be for a game to have a roving strike zone, and baseball fans starting grousing about why that can’t be reviewed like they do things in the World Cup. Or a team loses a game on a controversial pass interference call (or non-call), and NFL fans say the same. Ultimately I’m in favor of instant replay – for non-judgement calls.