This week Major League Baseball approved the use of instant replay. Some may see this decision as a way of updating a sport that has defied the use of current technology for years. When the NFL began using instant replays in 1999 it was questioned by many. But today it seems to be widely accepted and praised. The same may be true for baseball, once the initial steps of implementing the system are through.
Old baseball players, analysts, and nostalgic “purists” may believe that the use of instant replay will be terrible for the sport. This may be true, but then again it may not. While baseball is one of the oldest American sports, it has evolved over the years.
Way back in 1887, for some reason four strikes instead of three were used. This only occurred for one season. Another rule that was implemented this same year was the awarding of first base when a batter was hit by a pitch. This rule has stuck to this day.
In the 1960s, pitching mounds were raised after pitchers complained that hitters had an unfair advantage. Subsequently, in the 1969 the mound was lowered five inches to its current height after pitchers such as Bob Gibson dominated hitters so much.
Then in 1971, all players were ordered to wear protective batting helmets. Today it is hard to imagine playing the game without them.
And in 1973, the American League started using the designated hitter on an experimental basis for pitcher. This rule has stayed. And even pro-designated hitter proponents, such as George Steinbrenner, complain that the National League should adopt it.
These things have all largely been accepted today, although there are still a few “purists” who remember the days before these were implemented and wondered if these things would be good for the game. Things like the four strikes rule failed and were never fully adopted as many other rules that have been changed over the years. This proves that baseball can change. If the instant replay isn’t accepted by players, managers, and management once it is put into use, I’m sure it will be questioned.
But the use of instant replay in a game that is overseen by umpires who aren’t always perfect in their calls at times should only be seen as a good thing. Instant replay will ensure that close calls will be reviewed by the umpires allowing them to make the right call, rather than a call based on what they thought they saw.
In the current age of technology that we are in, instant replay could do a heck of a lot of good for the game of baseball. If the critics who say it will slow the game down even more are right. But I trust that those in charge will work on rectifying this. Hopefully the use of instant replay will be embraced by all; although I have a feeling it may cause some problems, at least for a few years.
For all the old purists out there, my only bit of advice is to listen to a little more classic Bob Dylan - for the times they are a-changing.
*Image gratefully borrowed from bobster’s 1985 photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons
-1943 integrated Marine baseball team