In defense of expanded replay


We're two and a half weeks into baseball's beloved new replay era, and here's my advice to those of you who are shouting about replay at the top of your lungs:

Settle down. Please.

We may not know yet where replay is going, but I'll tell you what it's not:

It's not a "disaster." It's not "a complete mess." It's not "ludicrous." It's not "a complete failure." It's not impossible "to have any faith in the system."

I've seen all those characterizations streaking across the Internet sky over the past week. I disagree with every one of them.

There's really only one thing that this replay system is not, at this point:

It's not perfect.

What a shock.

I'm not saying there haven't been decisions emanating out of those replay headphones that made me scream, "What the heck" (or something like that). And I'm definitely not going to claim that last weekend is going to rank real high on anybody's list of replay's finest moments.

But it's the overreaction to those calls that has been ludicrous. Not the system that produced them.

When exactly did anyone ever promise us that once those handy dandy replay machines came into our lives, there would never be a missed call in any major league baseball game for the rest of our lives? C'mon, kids. That was never the idea here.

Rewind the debate to last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. To that nutty era when we used to argue constantly that it was time for baseball to lurch into the 21st century already and start looking at a video screen.

Did we say back then that we wanted this sport, or needed this sport, or expected this sport, to get every single call right? Nobody ever said that. All we said was this:

There's this newfangled technology that would allow MLB to get a lot more calls correct than it's getting via the sacred "human element." So use it already. Please.

So what do you know. They actually listened. And now, two and a half weeks in, there have still been a couple of missed calls. So it's a disaster? Really?

Tony La Russa said something to me this week that I'd like to think would put all this in better perspective for managers like Boston's John Farrell, who had a game last Saturday decided by a missed call by the replay poobahs and had every right to be ticked off about it.

"Before this system," La Russa said, "all you could do as a manager, if a mistake was made [by the umpires], was go in, watch the replay [after the game] and say, 'Well, that call was blown, and hopefully it'll even out later on.' But now you have a chance to correct that blown call. And the ability to do that has already had a direct impact on what the final score was a number of times."

La Russa estimated there have been "five or six games" already in which, basically, the right team won -- because of replay. In other words, justice was served because replay fixed a missed call that, in the bad old days, would have changed the outcome.

We've done our best to fact-check that pronouncement, and to try to determine if that estimate is high, low or right on target. In truth, it's almost impossible to come up with a definitive number, because we're not psychic enough to know what might have happened in these games without replay. But it's more than zero. That's a fact.

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