Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Everything Changes

Firstly, I would like to thank the Academy for my call up to the bigs. I've always dreamed of a day when my days of slaving away in the "Minor Leagues" of the Comment section would pay off. Looks like that day is here.

Now, on to the main dish: Instant Replay.

I thought on the eve of baseball implementing instant replay in its minor league and spring training games, it would be useful to take a look at the way baseball has changed over the years. It's easy for many of us to look at the game we love and think that there has always been divisional play, a seven-game LCS, and a designated hitter. Any change seems detrimental, and we're always quick to imply that baseball is, unlike other sports, immune to change, or already perfect just the way it is.

Before we get to the instant replay issue, consider some of the more notable baseball rule changes that have occurred over the past couple of centuries. Here are a few of my favorites:

1845 - There are no restrictions on bat size or shape. [1.10]

1848 - A rule is introduced requiring that a baseman must hold the ball in order to put out a runner. (Before this the base runner was out if the ball hit him.) [7.08]

1863 - The pitcher is not permitted to take even a step in his delivery. Both feet must be on the ground when he releases the ball. [8.01]

1877 - To choose an umpire the league selects "three gentlemen of repute" in each city where there is a team. At least three hours before a game the visiting team chooses the umpire from among them. [9.01]

1879 - There are nine balls in a walk. [6.08A]

1893 - The pitcher’s box disappears (never to be seen again) and is replaced by the rubber–a slab twelve inches long and four inches wide. [1.07]

And some more recent additions or changes:

1969 - The category of Saves is added to baseball statistics. [10.20]

1973 - The year of the DH. The American League votes to accept the designated hitter rule on a three-year experimental basis. The National League votes against it. [6.10]

You can find a complete list of the rule changes here.

The point I'm trying to make here is that the game is always changing. Some of the rules are for the better, some don't work out so well.

Instant replay, used judiciously, can serve to get the important calls right, 100% of the time. I'm not talking about balls and strikes, but rather, home run or not, fair or foul.

And what is a change to the game other than change to the game? We're not solving world hunger here, people. And seriously, it's baseball, how much slower can the game get?

For a little more perspective on the issue, see this editorial by Brian Burwell over at the Post. He pretty handily tackles the fear of slowing the game down.

The only conceivable downside to implementing instant replay, is that one day our kids will never experience the sheer joy of watching Sweet Lou Piniella freak out over some minor blown call. And then charming little commercials like this will have lost all meaning. What a shame that will be.


Runningman said...


Solid, solid post especially considering it is your first, almost solid enough that the name of the blog should change to J2T...

Captain Awesome said...

I agree. Solid post, good topic. Well done. By the way, do you ever think they'll ever go back to nine balls in a walk?