Instant replay sends a bad message


Armando Galarraga appeared to have completed a perfect game in 2010 when he stepped on first base for what would have been the game’s final out. But umpire Jim Joyce ruled the runner safe, a call he admitted was a mistake after viewing television replays following the game. (MLB.COM/Associated Press)

Major League Baseball announced last week that it will use instant replay more often during the 2014 season. Umpires will check video replays to see whether they got the call right on all sorts of plays including home runs, tag plays, fair and foul balls and whether a fielder caught or trapped a line drive.

Each manager will be allowed to challenge one call during the game. If the challenge is upheld — in other words, if the umpire’s call was wrong — the manager will be allowed to challenge one more call. (An umpire’s call on a ball or strike cannot be challenged.)

I have written about instant replay before, and I know that lots of fans, including kids, disagree with me, but I don’t like instant replay. Especially in baseball.

Baseball is already too slow. A nine-inning major league game takes almost three hours. Checking instant replays, as they do in National Football League games, will make the games even longer.

But the more important reason I don’t like instant replay in any sport is that it sends a terrible message to kids. That message is that the game is not fair unless every call is correct.

The much better message — and the important lesson that sports can teach kids — is that bad calls happen in sports, just as bad things happen in life. Players, both pros and kids, have to learn to shake off the bad calls or bad breaks and continue to do their best.

But isn’t it important to get the calls right? Sometimes one bad call can change everything.

Some fans point to Armando Galarraga’s near-miss perfect game in 2010 as a good example of when instant replay should be used in baseball.

You might remember that Galarraga pitched a great game for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleveland Indians in which he got out 26 straight batters. So Galarraga was one out away from pitching a perfect game, something only 23 pitchers have done in the more than 130 years of major league baseball.

But umpire Jim Joyce missed the call on the 27th out. Joyce called a batter safe at first base. The video replay clearly showed that the runner was out. There was no instant replay, so Galarraga missed his chance at baseball history.

Despite his disappointment, Galarraga showed everyone how to act when the umpire makes a bad call. He got the next batter out to ensure the win for his team.

The next day, Galarraga shook the umpire’s hand and said there were no hard feelings about the missed call. “Nobody’s perfect,” Galarraga said.

Galarraga was a great example of how to be a good sport. I think that’s a more important lesson for kids to learn than to get every call right.

Fred Bowen writes a sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is also the author of 19 sports books for kids. His latest is “Perfect Game.”

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