Argument: Tradition of baseball is flexible and can include instant replay

Issue Report: Instant replay in baseball


Mike Celizik. “Beyond time for baseball to use instant replay.” NBC. May 22, 2008: “Baseball owners GMs voted 25-5 last November in favor of using instant replay to settle disputes over home runs, fair or foul balls and fan interference. Selig didn’t act on that vote, saying it goes against tradition, an argument that has been used in baseball from the day the game began.

That’s right, folks. Back in 1871, when the National Association of Professional Baseball Players established the professional game, the founders thought long and hard about using instant video replay but rejected it. No records exist of the debate that led to the decision, but circumstantial evidence suggests it was because they felt that waiting 125 years for the technology to be invented and perfected would slow the games down excessively.

In any event, if the founders wouldn’t embrace instant replay, Selig didn’t want to. This is what in baseball is considered to be wisdom.

Of course, tradition is a flexible concept. The founders also turned down the idea of night games because it was hard to illuminate a field using gas lights, kerosene lanterns and bonfires. But their descendants, who for many years fought the concept of night baseball, finally embraced it when they realized that they could sell more tickets and make more money playing at night – once science found a way to chase away the darkness.

Tradition was used as an excuse to keep blacks out of baseball until 1947, when the Brooklyn Dodgers introduced Jackie Robinson to the world and opened the game up to some of the greatest players the sport would ever see.

It was also used for years as an excuse to ignore pitchers who cut, scraped and lubricated baseballs in defiance of the rules of the game. Pitchers had always cheated, the thinking went, which made it a tradition that couldn’t be broken. But baseball got over that one, too, and today the instant a ball hits the dirt, it’s thrown out of play.”

Jamie Samuelsen. “Galarraga call proves that time has come for replay in baseball.” June 4, 2010: “We live in the 21st Century. Technology is changing and expanding on a daily basis and yet baseball allows itself to stay trapped in the 19th century when ol’ Abner Doubleday got some boys together to play a modified game of cricket.

If Major League Baseball ran technology, we’d pass on cell phones because it would take the human element out of talking to an operator. We wouldn’t have the internet because it would kill the human element of going to store and talking to the clerks. If baseball ran the Secretary of State’s office — you couldn’t renew your tabs online because you’d be denied the glorious human element of going to the office, waiting for 45 minutes, and dealing with the all-too-friendly ladies behind the desk.

[…] Football is the undisputed No. 1 sport in America. That’s for a lot of reasons (gambling, fantasy football, only one game a week). But I contend that football is also ahead of the pack because when there’s a problem with their game, they usually (stress on usually) fix it. Luckett botched a call in New York with the Jets and the Seahawks and bam — instant replay returned. The Saints won the NFC this year on the first drive in overtime in the NFC title game — and guess what? We have new overtime rules. Football never stands pat. Baseball does. And they deserve any ridicule that they get as a result.”