Dear Editor: I have been a lover of baseball for most of my life and have followed the game at the major league level for nearly 50 years.
Recently, I have felt the sport has been corroded and corrupted by the sharply growing number of vitriolic confrontations between umpires and players and managers. The reason for this problem is major league baseball’s decidedly foot-dragging stance of not allowing adequate use of the instant replay system.
I would like to see video replay applied to all plays in baseball except balls and strikes. A fifth umpire should be seated near a television monitor in the broadcast booth so that he can review all questionable calls and offer a definitively right decision within a few minutes. This would result in increased satisfaction and enjoyment for all concerned, especially the regular fan base of major league teams.
One reason given for not adopting expanded instant replay in baseball is the wrongful contention that such a move would eliminate “the” human element from the game. This is not true. Rather, it would do away with “a” human element — and an undesirable one at that, i.e., umpiring ineptitude and idiosyncracies that are all too prevalent today.
Unless I’m missing something mighty important here, under the guidance of instant replay, we would still have human umpires, human players, human fans, human administrators and hum-an media personnel.
Video replay has been used extensively in hockey and football for over 20 years now, and I have yet to hear one person complain that it has removed any kind of humanness from these sports.
Another argument put forth against the implementation of instant replay has been that it will make the games too long. Well, this system would eliminate most manager-umpire disputes, and therefore baseball games would be no longer than they are at present. And even if the games were to be a little longer, who says that the length of games trumps all other considerations? All true baseball fans would rather stay an extra 10 or 15 minutes and have a game decided on its merits rather than witness a contest whose outcome results from umpires’ mistakes. We want correctness and fairness in the sport, and not blown calls, which are totally unacceptable because they markedly impair the integrity of the game and are also aesthetically repellent. In fact, Roger Angell, one of the best baseball writers of the last 50 years, goes so far as to say that botched umpiring calls which decide games are “sickening.”
This is perhaps no more true than in the post-season, and we have had more than our share of those blunders within my memory span.
So, Commissioner Selig, if you happen to be reading this letter, please pay due attention to reason and reality.
Lloyd Bonnell, Corner Brook