In case you missed it, a bad call by the home plate umpire in Monday’s Tigers-Red Sox game kept the second inning alive, leading to a comeback by the Red Sox, a strange ejection of Detroit manager Jim Leyland, followed by Leyland pleading with the media to “write something and hold people accountable.” It’s not the first display of bad officiating this season — the Nats have certainly been on the wrong end of it — and it has raised the volume on the rally cry for instant replay.
Cal Ripken Jr. called in to the Sports Junkies yesterday and offered his thoughts on instant replay. (It should be noted that he started his call-in with “Good morning, I got my own burger now.”)
“I think you should use the technology as it becomes to you, but it can’t interrupt the flow of the game,” Ripken said. “And it’s really amazing to me is that, sometimes the umpires protect each other on the field, but the technology now exposes them even more. You know, there’s three other umpires that can see and has some sort of angle and they all have an impression of it. But very few will come in there and definitively say something, you know, to change it.
“I think the answer going forward is to have some sort of umpire in the booth. And if you have the four guys down on the field, and it doesn’t even have to be sold that way. If somebody has the ability to watch the technology, and when Leyland comes out to argue or when somebody comes out, they huddle together. If you had the ability to communicate within that group, like if you were an umpire in a booth, and then while they’re getting together, asking for help, saying ‘Okay, I’m not sure about that,’ and then you have a chance to see a quick replay and say definitively, ‘Yeah, he caught that.’ If you could communicate that message to the group and nobody would know about it. You could just say ‘Hey, it was clear that he caught the ball.’ So then they come back as a group and say ‘Okay, the consensus is, yes he caught the ball in the air.’
“I don’t know if it’s one guy in a technology room for all 30 teams, for fifteen of those games where he monitors it and he just goes there, or if it’s actually one person in the booth at that game. But it seems to me that you should take advantage of the technology. And it wouldn’t slow the game down, it would actually speed it up.”
A hidden guy in a room that nobody knows about sending secret messages to the umpires about calls is kind of fun to think about. Major League Baseball’s version of the Wizard of Oz.
Here is the full audio, if you want to hear more about burgers and his house full of washers and dryers.