Cal Ripken Jr. says baseball needs a secret replay umpire in a booth

With every blown call we witness in Major League Baseball comes outrage over the lack of instant replay. Many argue that it’s ridiculous to not take advantage of the technology we have in place, while others believe expanding instant replay in baseball removes the human element from the game. There is a growing list of people involved with the game who believe baseball is behind the times. One of the greatest players of all time can now be added to that list. Here is Cal Ripken Jr’s take on instant replay.

“I think the answer going forward is to have some sort of umpire in the booth,” Ripken said during an interview with the Sports Junkies according to D.C. Sports Bog. “And if you have the four guys down on the field, and it doesn’t even have to be sold that way. If somebody has the ability to watch the technology, and when Leyland comes out to argue or when somebody comes out, they huddle together.

“If you had the ability to communicate within that group, like if you were an umpire in a booth, and then while they’re getting together, asking for help, saying ‘Okay, I’m not sure about that,’ and then you have a chance to see a quick replay and say definitively, ‘Yeah, he caught that.’ If you could communicate that message to the group and nobody would know about it. You could just say ‘Hey, it was clear that he caught the ball.’ So then they come back as a group and say ‘Okay, the consensus is, yes he caught the ball in the air.’”

Bingo. I’m not sure that the replay official would need to be hidden, but Ripken’s idea makes sense in that no umpire would have to feel like they’re being undermined. The bottom line is that there are certain plays umpires miss or physically cannot see. That has always been the case, but we have not always had the technology to fix it. We do now, and people like Jim Leyland go on epic rants over blown calls but take a stance against instant replay. It makes absolutely no sense, so it’s refreshing to hear one of the game’s legends speak reasonably about it.

H/T The Big Lead
Photo credit: Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

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  • Gene

    Baseball needs to come into the 21st century with replay but there are problems that do not exist in other sports.  First, if an umpire calls a batted ball foul and the replay shows that it was fair (Joe Mauer vs. Yankees), how do you determine how far all of the baserunners move up?  Catches and tag plays with less than two outs can present the same problems with base runners. 

    The Leyland rant was about whether a batter went around on a check swing.  Often replays will not be conclusive.   I have often heard announcers disagree on whether someone went around or not after reviewing a replay several times.

    MLB could start by making umpires call balls and strikes based on the rulebook and not on their personal strike zones, which are all over the board.

  • Anonymous

    I agree about check swings and there are definitely plays where instant replay would be no help, just like in football. But Leyland’s beef was over a foul tip third strike. The umpire says it hit the ground, which gave Aviles another life. That’s always a tough call since the umpire can’t really see it over the catcher’s shoulder anyway, and the replay clearly showed the catcher caught it. It should have been strike three and the inning would have been over. Replay could have helped there.

  • Gene

     I agree with you.  All I’m saying is just like football, there are situations in baseball where instant replay might help with the decision but would cause many judgment problems.  They have to be very careful in deciding when and how to use it.