By Ken Reed

In the end, this year’s American League East race might be decided by a blown call at first base this past Saturday night.

The New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles have been battling for first place for weeks. The Orioles won Saturday’s game between the two teams when the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira was called out despite being clearly safe while sliding head first into first base on the back end of a double play attempt. Replays showed that Teixeira easily beat the ball to first but umpire Jerry Meals missed it and called him out.

“It was not a bang-bang play. He was safe. He was clearly safe,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You hate to lose a game that way, but he missed it.”

Teixeira was even more upset.

“I’m probably going to get fined,” railed Teixeira. “But I don’t care, really. I’m out there fighting. We are out there fighting. When you are battling like we are battling and they can’t get a call right, that pisses you off. It really does.”

The point here isn’t to focus on this particular blown call. This Major League Baseball season has had numerous blown calls. The point is that it’s time for Major League Baseball to expand its use of instant replay in order to get a much higher percentage of calls correct.

Blown calls negatively impact baseball history. Remember, it was only two years ago that the Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base.

Managers should have the ability to challenge a limited number of calls per game via instant replay. Maybe they don’t need to throw out a red flag like head coaches do in the NFL but they need to have the ability to notify the home plate umpire that they’re challenging a particular call. Maybe you limit the number of challenges to two per game. Whatever the final rule change is, in this technological age, managers need the ability to challenge controversial baseball plays.

Apart from balls and strikes, every play in baseball should be subject for review: fair/foul calls down the lines, every play at every base, catch/trap calls on flyballs, etc.

Some baseball purists continue to argue that using instant replay more often will lengthen the games too much. I think the actual time impact would be minimal. Moreover, the use of instant replay would severely restrict the often long — and futile — arguments between managers and umpires.

There was resistance to move to instant replay reviews in the NFL but I think very few NFL coaches or fans would argue that the instant replay system isn’t working in the NFL today.

Like virtually all baseball fans, I like the tradition and nostalgia in baseball. But I’m also a fan of progress. And using more instant replay in Major League Baseball to get more calls right would definitely be a step in a positive direction.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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