Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Play it again, ump

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This is about instant replay. But bear with me for a couple of paragraphs of context.

Houston resident Bob Watson, baseball's top official for rules and on-field operations, was at Minute Maid Park this afternoon on other business but took time to oversee the removal of the narrow, yellow plank that served as the vertical marker separating in-play from out-of-play where the left-center field fence rises from 10 feet to 25 feet.

Workers painted a yellow stripe directly onto the brick wall the plank had been affixed to, which should produce a truer bounce on long balls that are close calls in that area, helping the umpires make the right calls on plays such as Geo Soto's inside-the-park home run Monday night that should have been ruled a conventional homer.

Sot's homer call (which, obviously would have been huge if he'd been held up at second or third) and the fallout serves as just another example to help stir the pot that's been heating up a lot lately -- particularly with the New York Mets' Carlos Delgado losing a homer over the weekend when one umpire overruled the correct call made by an ump in position to call the play.

So should instant replay be introduced to baseball for home run calls? Players in the Cubs clubhouse had mixed reaction. Manager Lou Piniella said he doesn't like the idea. GM Jim Hendry said he used to be strongly against it but has softened his opinion when it comes to home run balls and fair-foul calls only.

I like the idea. Give the umps another tool to help get the call right. And reviewing the video in these strict, specific cases shouldn't take any more time than it takes to argue the call without the replay.

Anybody else?

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Maybe...with extreme moderation as I could definitely see some managers grossly abusing instant replay should it ever come to the MLB. (LaRussa springs to my mind immediately.)

The "cubbie" players, coaches and of course the unemployed fans who show up for the day games have to try to get an advantage to get ahead. We all know they will not win this year nor in the this new century of futility. Why can't we leave the game alone not having to contend with another sport having to be perfect because the humans can't get it right. Look a pro football. They have at least one hour of trying to make the perfect call and to be honest I am getting tired of someone having some idea to help "the game." Even the college game is just a show case for the NFL and the most of the players could give a rats A if they graduate.

We have to put up with "espn" [small case because they don't care about anything west of Philly] and their screaming panelist trying to out do every other show in the world.

Thank God, they don't do the Lacrosse Finals.

Houston manager Cecil Cooper came out after Soto's inside-the-park home run to speak with the umpires. Len and Bob correctly asked "About what!?!" Does anyone know what Cooper asked the umpires? I might have missed that on Tuesday night's broadcast.
Thanks - Matt

Will umpires always see an instant replay just because a manager asks for it? Or will the umpire decide wether he needs to see or not?

Why not do it just like the NFL....two challenges per must be CLEAR to overturn the decision on the field. In extra innings the umpires decide when to go to replay.

2 more umpires on the field. Problem solved. If you are worried about the fiscal impact - remember that each game will require a replay official in the booth, as well as an engineer to manage all the equipment. They are going to require nearly identical compensation as 16 more umpires each season.

Over the life of MLB, daily umpire crews have increased from 1 to 2, then 3, and 4 as we know it. MLB is aware of the problems 4 umpires create and have been for a long time (6 umps in the playoffs/allstar game). Now is the time to augment the MLB umpire crew's with two more arbiters. The minor league umpire system is log-jammed with hundreds of professional umpires who will never see the major leagues. Let's get going here and keep the game from becoming slower and morphing into something we don't even recognize.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on May 20, 2008 6:29 PM.

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