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Astros’ Matt Downs Wants Umpires to be Held Accountable for Bad Calls

Once again, we are big advocates for instant replay in baseball here at LBS.  Like the MLB’s oldest manager, we think it can only help the game.  That being said, accountability and the use of instant replay are two completely different concepts.  Instant replay should be instituted as part of the game so umpires can be human and make mistakes without being ridiculed.  It would also make the game a lot more fair and accurate, if that is something that interests you when following sports.

One thing that drives me insane is when players cry that umpires need to be held accountable for making poor calls.  Take Astros infielder Matt Downs for example, who was extremely unhappy after C.B. Bucknor called a questionable strike on a 3-1 count Tuesday night that eventually resulted in Downs striking out.  After the game, Downs went off about accountability.

“I get tired of umpires going back to the hotel and thinking they did a good job on the night and I have to go back to the hotel on a failure night after I feel like I walked 3-1 instead of punching out 3-2,” Downs told Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle. “Some kind of action has to be taken on just a bonehead call like that.

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Jack McKeon, MLB’s Oldest Manager, Supports Instant Replay

If you are a loyal LBS nut, you should know by now how we feel about instant replay in baseball.  Yes, the games are long enough as it is and yes, instant replay cuts back on some of the “human element” associated with the game.  That doesn’t mean we should not use technology that is readily available to us and is guaranteed to make the outcome of the game more accurate.

A lot of the opposition to instant replay comes from the old school generation.  Managers like Jim Leyland see no reason to review plays and even believe instant replays can be misleading.  Even Joe Torre has been doing his best to keep instant replay out of the game.

However, not all “old-timers” are opposed to the change.  Jack McKeon, the oldest manager in the MLB at age 80, believes the change can only improve the game.  After a controversial call that awarded Rafael Furcal a base hit on a ball that was caught cleanly Saturday night, Albert Pujols cranked a two-run homer that eventually became the difference in the game.  The play could not be reviewed, but replays showed the umpires blew the call.

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You Can Thank Joe Torre for Helping to Keep MLB Behind the Times

You can stick Joe Torre in the same category as Bud Selig and Sepp Blather when it comes to advancing the game using instant replay. And that’s not a good thing.

Torre, who opposed the use of instant replay as a manager, feels the same way in his role as Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for MLB.

“I have heard many discussions on umpiring and technology over the past two years, including both the pros and the cons of expanding replay,” Torre said in statement.

“However, most in the game recognize that the human element always will be part of baseball and instant replay can never replace all judgment calls by umpires. Obviously, a play like this is going to spark a lot of conversation, and we will continue to consider all viewpoints in our ongoing discussions regarding officiating in baseball.”

Look Joe, adding more replay doesn’t mean we’re completely eliminating the human element. Nobody is saying we need George Jetson’s robot nanny calling balls and strikes. But there’s no reason why umpires shouldn’t be able to use replay on close plays at the bag, especially for plays like the Braves-Pirates one last week.

We argued in 2007, 2008 and last year during Armando Galarraga’s perfect game that baseball needs expanded replay. We even set out guidelines for how and when instant replay should be used. See Joe? You don’t even have to use your brain for this one — we already did all the thinking for you!

Just get your head out of your butts and expand the use of instant replay. It won’t hurt the game; it will improve it.

FIFA Concerned About Wrong Replays

Man, I thought American sports and their leaders/organizers had things backwards. In soccer, we have players cussing out their coaches, players calling out their fans, questionable refereeing, and multiple missed calls. When England got screwed over Sunday by a missed goal call, I figured the outcry that soccer needs to integrate instant replay to review goals would be so strong that FIFA wouldn’t be able to resist. I figured wrong.

Apparently FIFA is run by a man more resistant to progress and the use of technology than Bud Selig, and that’s hard to do. As if not wanting to use replay to get goal calls correctly on the biggest possible stage — the World freaking Cup — is not bad enough, FIFA is more concerned with ensuring that instant replay isn’t utilized on scoreboards within the actual stadiums so as not to incite the fans and players. Apparently in Communist FIFA they don’t want instant replay to exist. My goodness.

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MLB Should Give Teams Two Challenges Per Game, NFL Style

If there was some good to come from the Jim Joyce/Armando Galarraga blown perfect game call, aside from the excellent comportment and sportsmanship displayed in the event’s aftermath, it was that the issue of instant replay has become more prevalent. I have long been a proponent of adding instant replay to MLB and now there seems to be a groundswell of support in its favor. Even Bud Selig, notoriously slow to change, has said he will examine the use of instant replay in baseball. Now that we got this far, we have to make sure the changes are integrated well. Here’s how to do it.

Much like the system used by the NFL, MLB should allow each team two challenge flags to throw per game. Challenges should not be used to review balls and strikes called by the homeplate umpire as this is one of the accepted “human element” aspects of the game that should be left alone. Much like Jeff Passan described at Yahoo! Sports, the subjective calls that are up to umpire interpretation should be left alone. Challenges could be used to review calls at the bases, runners tagging up, tag outs, catches vs. traps, fair vs. foul balls, hit by pitches, and fan/catcher interference. Just like in the NFL, if the team wins its challenge, it gets to retain its challenge but it loses one if the challenge fails.

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Jim Leyland Does Not Want Instant Replay in MLB Despite Blown Call

Umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. As a result, we said once again that baseball should expand its use of instant replay. Unfortunately, we have guys like Jim Leyland who like things the way they are. After the Tigers beat the Indians 3-0 and the perfect game was blown, the Tigers manager vouched for umpires citing the almighty “human element.” Here’s what he said:

This is the human element of the game, it’s going to remain that way forever — I think it should. I’m sure somebody’s going to say ‘If they had a replay on that play the kid would have had a perfect game.’ Somebody will say something like that but not me. That’s the human element and it’s a good element because the umpires to a great job, there’s no question about that. They’re a whole lot right more than they are wrong and they make some unbelievable calls on bang-bang plays. You’d be surprised how many replays you look at and you thought they were wrong and they’re right.

I agree with Leyland that umpires are right a lot more than they are wrong and that they do make unbelievable calls on bang-bang plays. Unfortunately, all the times they get calls right are meaningless when they blow it on significant plays like this one, or the Joe Mauer ball in the playoffs. Umpires already do a good job but why not allow them the opportunity to correct their mistakes? What’s so bad about striving for perfection?

Umpire Jim Joyce’s Blown Call Improves Case for Instant Replay in MLB

Two years ago, I made the argument that baseball should join the 21st century and add instant replay after seeing a blown call during the Padres/Rockies playoff game. It took some time, but MLB finally decided to allow umpires the ability to review home runs. Unfortunately, Bud Selig refused to further integrate instant replay into the game. That poor decision altered history on Wednesday night when umpires were unable to review the blown call by Jim Joyce that ruined Armando Galarraga’s perfect game.

As we previously detailed, Joyce made a terrible call and cost Galarraga the perfect game. I understand the “human element” of the game and I think baseball should continue to have it. However, I like that umpires have the ability to review home runs and I would like them to have the ability to review more plays. To me, the best solution would be to give managers the option to throw a challenge flag much like NFL coaches. I would say give them two challenges per game (no need to completely slow down an already slow game) so that we can correct wrong calls.

NFL and NBA officials review plays using instant replay, NHL officials review goals, and tennis allows players to challenge calls. Why shouldn’t managers have the ability to do the same so that calls can be corrected?

Here’s a video of the blown call to ruin Armando Galarraga’s perfect game: