I participated in a training session for umpires a while back. It was specifically for the 2 Umpire system commonly used in softball, with one umpire behind the plate and the second umpire at first base or, depending on the situation, maybe closer to second, as I recall. It takes a lot of skill to be an umpire, and not just if you’re calling balls and strikes. If you’re the first base ump, you have to focus, using your eyes and also ears to make those close calls at the bag—safe or out—and make them quickly. Not stand around staring at the sky musing about what just happened; not calling someone at home “hey, did you see that play just now?” Not, you make the call instantly, and with conviction.
In addition to having umpires that are reasonably competent, baseball officiating only requires that they are unbiased. If they make a wrong call, but make it honestly, that’s the human element in play. It can become the stuff of baseball lore: The Bad Call that Ruined a Season. And if it does, it does. That’s life.
So we don’t need to slow down a game that already creeps along, what with all the fidgeting by batters adjusting their glove straps, the pitcher faking a throw to first, the Walk To The Mound by the skipper. To all that we do not need to add replay challenges to calls made by the umpire.
I don’t say this lightly, because whether or not the replay is allowed to change the call on the field, the audience will see it. They’ll see it at home on tv, and in the ballpark on those ridiculously large screens. Umpires calls him out, replay shows his foot hit the bag a microsecond before the tag… can you let that call stand when everyone sees it was wrong? Answer: Heck yeah! “Out” is what the umpire says it is. You accept that and move on.
I know that we are used to seeing instant replay in football, and I don’t mind it there. I’d be fine without it, but (a) the game is faster-paced than baseball and (b) a slow motion version of, say, an acrobatic catch is much more interesting to watch than “here’s his foot… … … here’s the ball going into the glove… … … here’s the glove moving toward the foot… … … zzzzzzz.
So, I have taken it all in, and I have made my call. Baseball instant replay→ You’re Outta There!