Replay would be bad for baseball

Replay would be bad for baseball

ANAHEIM -- Instant replay would be the worst thing to happen to baseball since the between-inning commercial breaks were extended in length to somewhere between now and Thanksgiving.

Every time an umpire misses a critical call in a high-profile game -- and these instances are remarkably few -- there is this instant replay chorus. It is characterized by a sort of whining sound.

This is not the National Football League. Baseball is a game of human effort, by definition an imperfect undertaking. The players are human. The umpires are human. They are all striving for perfection, an impossible goal, particularly in this game, but the attempt is riveting. It is what basically compels us to watch baseball games. There is absolutely no need to burden the process, and slow down the game, with an appeal to a different camera angle that probably won't resolve anything, anyway.

And by the way, you can review the tapes of the Doug Eddings/A.J. Pierzynski/Josh Paul American League Championship Series episode untold thousands of times. You know what you will find? Just exactly what they typically find in the NFL: Inconclusive evidence. What was really telling about this play was not merely whether Eddings missed a call. It is was the neglect of the catcher to do the thing that catchers are taught in their childhood, to tag the batter and secure the out on any low pitch that might be a marginal catch in the eyes of the umpire. Nowhere in instant replay is there a cure for this sort of shortcoming. The umpire was human. The catcher was human. Oh, man, let's rectify this situation by pondering replays for the next 45 minutes.

Please spare us this layer of endless second-guessing masquerading as progress. There is absolutely no point in adding to baseball the junk technology that has already clogged up the telecasts of professional football. Let the NFL have it. They're all about replacing the human factor with some arbitrary exactitude. We can't draft this guy as a quarterback because he's 6-foot-1 1/2 when he needs to be 6-foot-2. Please keep baseball as far away from this phenomenon as possible.

Many of us remain reasonably confident that baseball is not going to use instant replay anytime soon because there are still enough people in positions of power who understand that every step away from the human element of baseball is a step that lessens the greatest game in the world. I'll take a human being, highly trained and at the top of his profession, making these calls. He won't be perfect, and all of us will rush to point this out whenever we disagree with his split-second judgment. But that will only prove that he is human, which is the whole point.

Mike Bauman is the national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.