COMMENTARY | Instant replay has been long overdue in baseball.
Getting the call right is what's most important, and if the technology exists to accomplish that, doing anything short of getting those calls correct is tantamount to negligence and malpractice.
The overriding fear of non-replay enthusiasts is that the "human element" will be lost if we expand the amount of replay, and thus we should simply not care about countless missed calls because, shucks, people make mistakes and why correct them.
The human element will always exist in baseball and sports. However, as long as humans are playing the game, it's ludicrous to allow missed calls to stand and not advance the sport into the 21st century.
I am firmly in favor of #RobotUmpires. Until then, let's use robot cameras to review a couple of notable moments in Los Angeles Dodgers history that could have been corrected by the use of instant replay:
"The Shot Heard 'Round The World" is one of the most memorable moments in the long history of baseball, but it was aided by cheating on the part of the San Francisco Giants. With replay, we'd be able to catch the Giants engaging in blatant cheating and level the playing field.
Now, I don't mind if you use your eyes to "steal" signs -- I'd call it deducing mentally what the other team is going to do, something that's more than fair game, in my mind -- but basically using military technology is taking it too far.
Would the outcome change? Who knows, as it's entirely possible that Bobby Thomson could still have hit Ralph Branca's fastball out of the park to win the 1951 NLCS and take the pennant.
Branca himself has noted that even with knowing what pitch was coming Thomson still had to put a good swing on it and get force behind it to drive it over the wall. However, a level playing field would certainly have made it more difficult, as knowing a fastball is coming makes it easier to hit said fastball.
Todd Helton, Jerry Hairston, and Feet Away From First (2012)
Though just a play at first base in a regular-season game in a season in which the Dodgers weren't going to come close to making the playoffs, this call is undoubtedly one of the worst ever made by a professional official of any kind and at any level. Video, pictures, and .GIFs don't do it justice. It's just unimaginably bad.
During a game in Colorado, Jerry Hairston hit a grounder. As he ran toward first, it was clear there would be a relatively close play at the base. However, what was not relatively close was where Todd Helton was when he fielded the throw.
Roughly three or so feet away, Helton himself was shocked that an out was called by first base umpire and crew chief Tim Welke. Hairston was understandably livid, and the Dodgers argued but to no avail.
Greg Zakwin is the founder of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle, a Dodgers' and sports card blog. He writes with an analytical tilt about The Blue Crew at ChadMoriyama.com. You can find and follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke. A graduate of UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor's in History, he's been a follower of the Dodgers since birth and still mourns the loss of both Mike Piazza and Carlos Santana.
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