Taking a closer look

Replay is overrated.

Now let’s look at it from all angles.

Actually, let’s not. Most observers of the game (whether that be baseball, football, basketball, hockey and – I only can assume – badminton) seem to love the idea of replay.

They say the object should be to get calls right.

Replay is supposed to help this.

For years, I opposed replay of any kind in baseball (along with, but not limited to, the designated hitter, interleague play, expanded playoffs and anything new fans generally think is fun), for the simple fact that I thought human error was part of the game.

Yes, I know, the NFL resumed using instant replay in 1999, Division I college football picked it up soon after. Now the NBA and big college basketball have it.

And after watching it in use for the better part of 15 years, I’ve come to a conclusion:

Human error still is part of the game.

I could cite some examples, but if you’ve watched the NFL, you’ve seen a play called by an official – after watching the tape – that makes you shake your head.

NFL referee Jeff Triplette may or may not have been involved.

But the fact is, replay’s not going anywhere, and is likely to be expanded in football and basketball. And baseball? This week baseball announced it’s going for a NFL-style challenge system.

I, for one, would have loved to have seen veteran manager Lou Piniella step up to the top of a dugout a fling a red flag toward an umpire.

But for all the complaints that baseball is slow and boring (which I never bought into), what will it do to the game when play stops for five minutes so the men in blue can look at a TV screen?

Sure, those in favor of replay say it will stop arguments. Who wants to end those? Watching Piniella go ballistic at Jacobs Field some 15 years ago is one of my favorite memories at a ballpark. At least those can be entertaining.

But I fear baseball is making a mistake because it’s searching for perfection, which isn’t possible. Under the new rules, managers have a challenge for the first seven innings, and get another if they win the first one. From the seventh inning on, whether to review a play or not will fall on the umpire’s crew chief.

So essentially, the rulemakers believe calls from the seventh inning on are more important.

But I thought the point was to get a call right?

It just seems to me that when a sport adds replay, it’s essentially adding unneeded things to its game. More angles to look at, more discussion, more scrutiny.

After a while it just won’t feel like baseball anymore.

Baseball is supposed to be simple.

And you know what else is simple?

High school and small college games. I’m not saying officials always get the calls right, but everyone knows the rules. If a call is missed in a high school basketball game, it’s not uncommon to see the officials caucus briefly and make a call.

Quick, simple. Get it done, move on.

My feeling on MLB replay is that it won’t end here. The most subjective part of officiating is calling balls and strikes.

Those can’t be challenged now. It’s hard to see how they could be.

Unless baseball figures out a way to have a computer mechanically call them.

But Baseball wouldn’t go that far.

Would it?

Talk about seeing something from a different angle.