Human element required

Following the first two weeks of the regular season, Major League Baseball’s replay system is in a quandary with its critics. After listening to the naysayers, one thought came to mind – words made famous by The Clash for their song “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”

From the get-go, I didn’t have any faith in the process. I had issues with umpires checking with command central in New York from whatever venue the challenge originated. The length in the delay, whether it be just several minutes, still had effects on the flow of the game.

All one has to do is look at the pace of play in the National Football League when a challenge flag is thrown onto the field.

Whatever happened to having trust in the human factor? If I were a football referee or baseball umpire at the professional level, I would feel like a thousand eyes peering over my shoulder watching my every move and just waiting for that one blown call.

Take the replay system out of the equation then referees and officials can concentrate on their job and do what they are paid to do. Granted, not every call is perfect. Then again, do we live in a perfect world?

The other day on my way to cover a high school baseball game, listened for a few minutes about this very subject on MLB Network Radio. The one caller who put it in perspective mentioned that any missed calls made by a live person – and not the replay booth – makes for good discussion between friends at a bar. On the other hand, how can you argue about a play where an inanimate object is deciding the outcome.

Of course, once in every great while an umpire will be called on the carpet for what he saw or didn’t see. In the 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals, Don Denkinger is forever remembered for The Call. Denkinger called Royals’ Jorge Orta safe on an infield grounder when replays showed otherwise.

Some rule changes have turned out for the better, such as the 35-second shot clock in men’s college basketball (even though I enjoyed the creativeness of Dean Smith’s four-corners offense). But replay challenges in baseball ruins the integrity of the game. How many challenges do you see at the high school. At that level, officiating remains pure just like the sport itself. Until this season at the major league level.

Just think how long baseball has survived using the human element.

The inventor of baseball Abner Doubleday is probably turning over in his grave.

Because we have the technology to see every angle of every play is that necessarily a good thing? Replay must decide if it will stay or if it will go.

*Marshall Field: Remember those contests where you guess how many jelly beans are in a jar? Along those lines, I wonder if the Parkersburg Catholic baseball team keeps count on how many foul balls are lost in one game/one season at its home field (Marshall Field) in Davisville.

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com