Tuesday, August 28, 2012

6 comments Terence Moore Still Hates Expanded Replay, Because This One Time the Umpires Got a Tough Call Right

Terence Moore let us all in on a not-so-secret a few weeks ago. He hates the idea of expanded replay in baseball. The reason he hated the idea of expanded replay is because umpires have an impossible job, so why make it any easier for them to do their job? If MLB expanded replay then the calls on the field would be more accurate, but there would be change in baseball, which traditionalists and purists are completely opposed to any sort of evolution or change in baseball. It is fine for baseball to have changed and adapted in the past, but from now on there shall be no more adapting or changes in the sport. It's too much for some to bear. I can only imagine how the purists and traditionalists would have reacted in the 1960's when baseball lowered the mound or in the 70's when the DH was implemented in the American League, but not the National League. I'm pretty sure Terence Moore's head would have exploded if those type of changes were made in 2012. So in summary, all past changes to the game of baseball are fine, but future changes like expanded replay aren't necessary.

When it comes to expanding instant replay in baseball, an old saying from my Aunt Flossie comes to mind: Just leave it alone.

Obviously Aunt Flossie had instant replay in mind when she said this.

Oh, and if you're among those who believe this overrated technology throughout amateur and professional sports really can solve everything shy of global warming, let's return to Monday night in Los Angeles.

Nobody believes instant replay is the "cure-all" for baseball. It's just this "overrated technology" can ensure the umpires calls are the correct calls. The integrity of the outcome of the game should be upheld, even if it means hurting the feelings of the umpires and testing Terence Moore's aversion to change. Why is taking two minutes to make sure a call was correct such a terrible thing? Sometimes the umpire's call will be correct and he will look like the competent person he normally is. Sometimes the call will be overturned and the correct call will be made. This isn't a bad thing simply because it is using technology to affect change, which are probably the five scariest words for Terence Moore to ever hear.

I'm guessing hearing the words "using technology to affect change" sends a shudder through Terence's body.

Listen closely. You still can hear the Colorado Rockies screaming for no legitimate reason.

What follows is yet another story that intended to show us how stupid instant replay is, but instead shows us how useful instant replay could be. See, the Rockies wouldn't have been screaming for no legitimate reason with expanded replay. If there were expanded replay it would have shown the umpires their call was correct. The umpires would confirm their call and the Rockies would (hopefully) quiet down knowing the call was correct upon review.

Instead, what we get is Terence Moore saying the Rockies should shut up and stop complaining because the television replay showed the ball was trapped. Of course, the Rockies don't know this because they aren't watching television, but are watching the play on the field. So Terence uses replay as proof the Rockies were freaking out over a correct call, but only having access to replay showed the call was correct. Again, it seems Terence submarines his own point.

Here's the bottom line: The umpires correctly ruled on an awfully tough call Monday night at Dodger Stadium without instant replay. They huddled during the seventh inning, and then they declared Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler had trapped a ball during an attempt at making a diving catch against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I'm not accusing the umpires of not doing their job well. Terence Moore admitted the last time he wrote about expanded replay that an umpire's job is very hard. So kudos for these umpires for getting the call right, but what would it hurt for them to spend the time they would normally huddling to talk about the call looking at the replay? It isn't an insult to umpires to expand replay, it is an acknowledgment their jobs are hard and they are bound to miss calls. Not to mention, hurt feelings among the umpires isn't a reason to not ensure the calls on the field are correct.

The television replays also showed that Fowler trapped the ball. I mean, he trapped the ball.

Thanks Bill Simmons for using italics to show emphasis. Yes, the television replays showed he trapped the ball. The viewer, and Terence Moore, needed the benefit of instant replay to see for certain that Dexter Fowler trapped the ball. Why not give the umpires a chance to get the benefit of the replay? Again, Moore submarines his own point. He uses the fact he has the benefit of replay, which proved the call was correct, as a reason umpires should not get this same benefit.

Even so, Rockies manager Jim Tracy blasted the umpires' decision by doing his best imitation of Earl Weaver rolled into Billy Martin, and he eventually was ejected.

HE BLASTED THE UMPIRES' DECISION AND WAS EJECTED BECAUSE HE COULDN'T SEE THE REPLAY! My goodness, this isn't a hard point to figure out. Jim Tracy saw the play live and thought it was a catch. If the umpires had used replay and ruled the same way, Tracy would have had much less of a good argument and may not have blasted the umpires' decision. Stop using the fact you have the benefit of a replay proving the call made on the field was correct as a reason MLB should not give umpires the expanded use of this same replay.

Tracy told reporters. "Quite frankly, I think [Fowler] caught the ball, and there's no question about that. I've seen the replay a few times, and even if he trapped it, I understand and appreciate the fact that the umpires are doing the very best they can to get the calls right. And yet, on that particular play, I find it hard to believe how three other guys can weigh in, being as far away from that as they were."

Basically Jim Tracy is making a good point. It's a tough call. Simply because the call on the field was correct doesn't mean this call will be correct next time or the umpires were in a great position to make an accurate call.

There are several lessons here about instant replay, and none of them are good. First, no matter who or what makes the calls during games, there still will be arguments.

The arguments of managers and players will be lessened if the call is ensured correct by instant replay. We've all seen an NFL head coach fight strongly to have a call on the field overturned, only to stand there stone-faced as the head official states the call on the field was correct. A review of a disputed play tends to take some of the fight out of a manager/coach when it comes to believing the call on the field was incorrect.

Second, instead of having managers, players, fans, reporters or others saying the umpires are clueless, you'll just have folks chastising the accuracy of the cameras.

No, we won't. Not if the expanded replay cameras are set up well around the field.

See a fuming Tracy.

That's what instant replay is worth.

Jim Tracy originally didn't have the replay to watch. Then after watching it he admitted the call could have been correct, but stated he wasn't sure how the officials were in a position to get the call correct. So don't act like he was still fuming after seeing the replay, while still insisting Fowler caught the ball.

Said Selig last month on that same New York radio show, "We're now going to add [instant replay] on trapped balls in the outfield and, as I call them, bullets down the right- and left-field line."

I'm not opposed to this. I doubt calls would be questioned more than once, possibly twice, times a game. It won't delay the game any more than an umpire huddle to discuss whether a call made was correct would delay the game.

The owners and the players union approved expanding instant replay to cover fair-or-foul calls and trapped-or-caught balls, and the umpires haven't a problem with the expansion.

Then what's the problem if the umpires don't hate the expansion? It's their reputations Terence Moore seems concerned with protecting, so if they have no issue with replay being expanded that should tell him something. While I am not for delaying the game any further, I also believe there needs to be dedication to ensuring the umpires are correct in making the call on the field correctly.

With two outs and a runner on second, the Dodgers' Shane Victorino pushed a sinking fly ball to center. Fowler slid for what appeared to first-base umpire Mike Estabrook as a catch -- you know, just above the lower blades of the Dodger Stadium grass.

Victorino was called out. End of inning.

Except Dodgers manager Don Mattingly did what managers have done forever in that situation. He questioned the call.

In this case, Mattingly went out and argued the call for a minute or so only for nothing to be resolved. Terence Moore prefers this to Mattingly simply asking for a replay and the umpires spending the time they would normally debate the call ensuring the accuracy of the call. Terence Moore hates this for some reason...well for one specific reason, mainly that he is resistant to any sort of change.

Then the other umpires did what they often do in that situation, which is they joined the umpire who made the initial call to discuss the matter between themselves. They eventually decided as a group that Fowler trapped the ball and that the Dodgers still were alive.

They changed the call on the field after debating the matter with each other, rather than changing the call on the field by finding visual proof the call was originally incorrect. It could have taken the same time to huddle as it would have to view a replay and get visual confirmation of a correct call.

Television replays supported the umpires, of course.

Right, of course. Because we as viewers should use the television replay as proof the umpires were correct, but God forbid the umpires use the television replay to confirm the changed call was correct.

In fact, despite all of the bashing involving umpires overall, television replays show they are correct the overwhelming majority of the time.

Folks concentrate on the dramatic misses.

How correct are umpires on close calls? That's the issue at hand. This question isn't how many times they correctly call a runner out/safe when it isn't a close play. When there is a ball down the line or a close play at first base, what percentage of the time is the call made correctly? Why can't the umpires take three minutes to ensure this percentage is as close to 100% as possible?

Just in the last couple of years, there was Jim Joyce's blown call in the ninth in 2010 that ruined a perfect game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga. Then there was Johan Santana's no-hitter that really wasn't earlier this season. Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals lined a shot off the New York Mets pitcher down the third-base line at Citi Field, and the ball was ruled foul by umpire Adrian Johnson.

So in the past three years there have been two missed calls that ruined a perfect game and kept a no-hitter alive? If anything shouldn't these high profile missed calls show how instant replay can affect historic achievements in the sport? What about Don Derkinger in the 1985 World Series? I guess I'm just too focused on the high profile and dramatic missed calls. I guess I should be focusing more in the little, non-dramatic missed calls that happen during the season.

Replays showed it was fair.

And of course, it would greatly harm the game of baseball if this same replay was used by the umpires to get this call correct.

Stuff happens.

Yes, it does. If we could prevent stuff from happening, wouldn't this be worth doing...rather than throwing our hands up in the air at a missed call believing in some way this is a fair trade-off for the game of baseball still being "pure."

Just not enough for baseball to justify going nuts with more and more instant replay.

If Terence Moore believes a perfect game that was ruined by a bad call doesn't justify slightly expanded replay then there is probably no arguing with him. The game is still pure and he as a "traditionalist" can take pride in this fact. The umpires may end up getting calls incorrect at times, but isn't baseball about the human error that can affect the outcome of even one game and not about a competition between two teams? Accuracy in calls should always come second to resistance to change.


CRS said...

I agree with Terence Moore, as I am a baseball "purist." There should be no replay, and batting helmets should be outlawed.

I am also a football purist. Please see the first paragraph: no helmets.

I believe in replacing the hoop and net in organized basketball with peach baskets, to return the game to as it originally was.

I am also a part-time doctor. If you're not using leeches, you are not "playing the game the right way."

Bengoodfella said...

CSR, don't forget there should be no helmets in hockey either and baseball mitts should not be these well-padded pieces of leather we have now, but should be basic pieces of leather that barely fit the baseball in the glove.

I don't know when "purist" came to mean "I hate any type of change, even if it doesn't affect the game which is being played negatively."

We have the technology to expand replay a little bit, why not do it?

Justin Zeth said...

I would rather there be no replay at all in the NFL than the system that currently exists there. Taking five minutes to review a simple fumble-or-no-fumble play is absurd and severely disrupts the game. There's a serious logistical problem there. (From a fan's perspective, that is; the real reason the NFL does replays the way it does is to create commercial time on the TV broadcast).

The NHL's way of handling replay is the Right Thing: immediately after something questionable happens, a replay official, whose job specifically is to sit in the press box and review replays and make a ruling if called upon, spends a minute looking at replays and calls down to the referee his decision. Done, and back to playing hockey. Baseball can do the same thing, and so far it looks on track to do it right.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, I would agree with you in that I don't like reviewing every turnover. I think that is unnecessary. I do think replay is necessary in the NFL, but they could also speed up the process a bit. I wouldn't be upset at all over a replay official seeing the call and then making a choice rather than making the head official go under the hood to look at it.

I think baseball is a sport where replay can be incredibly easy. There aren't a ton of variables to look for, like whether two feet are down or if the player showed control with the football. The official can take 2-3 looks and see if a ball was fair or foul. It's not hard and I see no reason not to use replay for calls like this. It would not slow the game down that much. There may be 1-2 replays per game maximum.

Justin Zeth said...

Replays wouldn't have to interrupt baseball at all, as slow as the game already moves. If there's a close play at the plate, the replay official upstairs will be able to look at it from four angles and make a ruling before the next batter is even ready to step in the box.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, that is very true. I don't get the opposition to expanded replay. It just makes sense to me. It won't take long and will ensure calls are correct. Sort of a no-brainer, no?

Baseball replay would be 200% more efficient than replay in football.