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If every ballpark were like Wrigley Field, we wouldn't need replay

Big League Stew

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Stewies, please re-welcome Mr. Chalk. He's an occasional BLS contributor, a regular over at Bugs and Cranks and an unparalleled blogger of all things Tampa Bay Rays. Dave?

Major League Baseball began using instant replay late last August, and since its first use at historic Tropicana Field until now, the system has generally run smoothly. Still, the game has been forced to choose between its timeless tradition and using expensive technology to get calls right.

Until now. What if that choice didn't need to be made? What if home run calls could be made as accurately — if not more accurately — without the use of video replays, its accompanying delays and technical limitations?

Enter the perfect solution, one sure to be backed by the players union. After all, at least one player has blamed an injury on the current replay system. The normally soft-spoken future Hall-of-Famer Brian Bruney of the Yankees blames his time on the DL this season on a 8-1/2 minute replay delay back in April. Why risk the career of great players like Bruney when a better alternative awaits?

Here it is: Baskets and Nets.

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It's genius, right? I thought of this watching one of the NLDS games at Wrigley last year. Every outfield wall should have baskets just like Wrigley. The baskets just need to be deep enough that a fan can't reach past them. If the ball lands in the basket or the stands, it's a home run. Fan interference gone forever.

Old-school technology — almost as old as man — and no need to flip on another TV.

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Many an Orioles fan has asked: What if they had instant replay during the 1996 American League playoffs?

The heck with that. What if Yankee Stadium had baskets during the 1996 playoffs?

• Jeffrey Maier never would have gotten into trouble for skipping school.

The Orioles would have beaten the Yankees, won the '96 World Series and perhaps the next four World Series.

• The Yanks would have won the game, series and World Series without the help of a 12-year-old 10th man.

• Tony Tarasco (right) would still be alive today.*

(*actually still alive today)

I suppose things could bounce out of the basket and be unclear, but maybe they could put crazy glue or some sort of radioactive dye in the baskets. Velcro.

But what about those pesky fair/foul plays, you say? First, awesome pun with Pesky. Second, that's where the nets come in, my friends.

Baseball already uses netting to protect fans behind home plate from foul balls. Just attach those nets to the foul poles and spread them to the back of the stadium seating areas. Think of those nets they have on the sides of goal posts in arena football. If the ball bounces off the net fair, home run; if it bounces foul, steeerike.

Simple, inexpensive, foolproof, brilliant. And no more risking the careers of all-time greats like Brian Bruney(notes).

You're welcome, baseball. Clear off a shelf in Cooperstown for my brain. (Wait 'til I die, please. And put a Devil Ray hat on it.)

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