America´s Favorite Pastime, or Just a Lot of Passed Time?

Umpires reviewing a call to overturn a home run call on Twins

By: Jillian Gellatly|Writer

October 25, 2017

As technologies change and modernization of sports continues, the game of baseball has followed these “advancements” as well.  One of the biggest changes is the addition of reviewing calls through instant replay. This new factor has changed the game tremendously, and not for the better.

Much excitement comes from the instant a call is made, good or bad.  With this new system of review, this does not hold as much importance for baseball fans.  The history of baseball consists of heroic moments, big plays, life changing games, and of course, critical calls.  Now, with reviewing calls, the natural instinct of an umpire is devalued since the call is reviewable.  Not only does it take excitement and naturalness of the game away, but it slows the game down tremendously, often times diminishing any momentum that one team had over the other.

Sometimes, the most entertaining part of a game can be a heated argument between a coach or a player, and an umpire.  Search for arguments with coaches and umpires on youtube and thousands of videos will appear.  Will these videos be in as abundance now as they were before? I don’t think so.  Of course there will still be arguments here and there, but the overturning of a call will not ride on it as much now that umpires don’t need to be harshly confronted to discuss a call with their partners, now they just have to look at the footage of the play and determine if they were correct on the call or not. Fans pay significant amounts of money, and flock to games to watch good baseball and maybe score on a bonus of seeing a big play, or a big argument.  

With instant replay, fans are missing out on these critical calls and arguments more and more, and instead are being bored to death sitting in their hard, plastic, stadium seats waiting for the umpires to make a decision while watching the same play and call that just took place over and over again. What kind of excitement is in that? None. There will always be the rush of adrenaline that overcomes when a major play at the plate takes place, knocking both players to the ground, and watching the umpire as he makes his call.  Then, seeing the coach storm out of the dugout in anger, yelling, cursing, and getting in the umpire’s face, defending his team from the clearly awful call. These moments are what baseball fans, players, and coaches all live for. These moments will still exist from time to time, however, when they do take place they will then be interrupted by a long break for the umpires to go watch the play again and again and figure out the correct call.  This is what baseball has come to.   

Senior and UCSB commit Michael McGreevy throws a ball across the diamond to make the out at first against ANHS

New technology and changes to the rules and processes of the game take away the factor of human error.  This seems like such a minor detail, but in the end, it amounts to so much more.  The natural instinct and initial call an umpire makes is what makes the game so great and separates it in that aspect from any other game. Or,  at least… it did.  When speaking with SCHS head baseball coach Dave Gellatly, he stated that he “has major issues with it.” His issues were truly valid as he noted that it, “Takes away the humanistic side of the game.  Umpires make mistakes and that’s part of the fun of it. It’s what makes sports so exciting!” Gellatly also raised the question, “At what point does it stop?”  He discussed scenarios such as ball and strike calls being reviewed next, and other issues that will happen as there is no true stopping point in this downward spiral of technology and baseball, leading to the game being entirely run by technology and umpires no longer having any place in the game of baseball.

SCHS varsity baseball coach argues a call with home plate umpire against ANHS

Of course with any opinion there is always opposition , and senior pitcher and UCSB commit Michael McGreevy definitely had a different view on the topic.  When asked how he felt about the instant replay and reviewing of calls in the MLB, he responded with, “I am definitely for it.  It allows for the right calls to be made, and it ensures that there are no mistakes. It has decreased the amount of arguments and suspensions as well.”   However, digging deeper into McGreevy’s argument, there have been calls that have been made after umpires have gone back to review them that many still say were the wrong calls.  Therefore, there are still mistakes being made even with this new system.  As Gellatly stated earlier in our conversation, “It is still left up to the judgement of the umpire, official, or referee. No matter how you look at it, they are still going to have their own opinion of what the right call is.”

The world around us is constantly changing. Advancing with technology and engineering, but if there is one thing that should be left without the corruption of technology, it is sports, and especially baseball. Baseball will always be America’s favorite pastime, but at what point will there be too much passed time reviewing a play over and over again in the middle of a game? The new system of reviewing calls is disrupting baseball and has no place in the great game.  

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