By George Ofman-
(WBBM) Upon further review, I think we need to take another look at instant replay.
Technology has given professional sports more options to get the play right. We hear this mantra all the time: “Just get it right!” I get it.
Major League Baseball is considering replay for every call except balls and strikes and you know that will fester its way into the game one day soon. The NFL looks at just about everything except plays in which Jay Cutler sneers at fellow teammates. Thank goodness it’s not an infraction though someone in the rules committee with an axe to grind will probably suggest sneering become a five-yard penalty. The NBA has gone off the deep end with incessant replays that you and I can see with the naked eye but people in striped shirts cannot. At least the NHL only replays goals. Imagine if it decided to start looking at offsides and icing?
I have to admit I’m getting annoyed. These frantic forays into getting it right are one thing. I’m all for that but at what price? I covered the Bulls triple overtime victory over the Nets. Terrific theater, save for the officials having to look at replay six times during the overtimes. Six times! It drove me mad. Patience is not one of my strong points. What it did was detract from the drama by trying to create its own and it was unnecessary. There’s something called the flow of the game and replay is putting a significant crimp into that. How often have you screamed for officials to use replay during an NFL game only to scream again, “WHAT’S TAKING YOU SO LONG?” It kills the thrill.
Now baseball wants to get into the act, which it should with some caveats. I was all for the game replaying a home run because of the immediate impact it has. We recently got a glimpse though of how replay needed replay when the befuddled Angel Hernandez and his equally befuddled crew looked at a home run by the Indians and reversed the call even though everyone with one eye closed could see it was a home run. It certainly ramped up staunch advocates for adding more replay. And those missed calls in the playoffs prompted Bud Selig and his band of merry men to step up the process. Fine, get it right but please don’t do so by attacking my senses.
The NHL has a crew in Toronto that looks at goal replays and now the other major sports should follow suit. And baseball, like the rest, might be wise to consider Hawkeye, the device used by tennis. A player challenges a call and within ten seconds you get a video replay. End of story. Problem is each player gets three challenges and if he or she is right, doesn’t lose one. There has to be a limit to challenges whether you’re right or wrong. Some players abuse the system and I fear this could happen in baseball. If Major League Baseball was to implement Hawkeye, which appears to be a rather daunting task considering myriad angles of plays, or employ a crew in its headquarters using a different process, there has to be a limit to how often each manager can challenge a play. Draw the line at two and no more whether you’re right or wrong, though we’ll allow the game to determine home run calls. And let’s make sure expediency is part of the process. The last thing I want to do is spend five minutes waiting for a decision. The game is long enough. Remember, my patience is thin to begin with.
So if baseball truly wants to take the next step forward, bleed technology for all it can give. Just make sure you get it right.
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM. Look for him on Facebook and find him on Twitter at @georgeofman.