If there’s one thing I’ve learned about MLB, it’s that common sense never prevails.
Of the four major sports (basketball, hockey, baseball, football), baseball is far and away the easiest to officiate. The refereeing is terrible in basketball, but it’s pretty hard to tell on a bang-bang play if a defensive player had position before getting knocked down by a driving superstar. In football, you could call holding on basically every play. In hockey, a hooking call can be tough to make depending on the official’s angle and the speed of the players.
But what are MLB umpires’ excuses? There might not be a more useless official in any sport than an umpire. We have the technology to create a strike zone with laser beams, so what is the purpose of an umpire calling balls and strikes behind the plate? Oh right, the human element. For whatever reason, the establishment that runs MLB believes that critical mistakes by officials are one of the most important aspects of the game and should be preserved at all costs.
The Boston Red Sox got a full dose of the human element on Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers. In the eighth inning with the score tied 4-4, Avisail Garcia hit what should have been a routine fly ball to right fielder Daniel Nava. As Nava camped under the ball, he clearly caught it with his right hand, brought his left hand into the glove to grab it, and dropped the ball with his left hand.
However, second base umpire Mike DiMuro ruled that he never caught the ball. And he should know because he was roughly 200 feet from Nava. But MLB umpires are never wrong. Ever. Despite clear video evidence to the contrary, the call stood. The floodgates were opened for the Tigers who went on to win 7-5.
Why does MLB refuse to embrace change like other sports? The NFL began using instant replay over a decade ago and it has revolutionized the game. Yes, some of the old school traditionalists were opposed to this change because they too enjoyed the “human element.” However, you will be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t think instant replay is a great addition to the NFL.
Will MLB ever come to their senses and add more technology? Not as long as the umpires create a united front against it. This is their livelihood on the line so you can hardly fault them for opposing these reforms. But what is MLB’s excuse?