Oct 252005
Authors: Brett Okamoto

Is anyone else sick of seeing the wrong team win games?

When you see more sports articles in October focused on the officiating than the baseball, that's when you know it's time.

They're not playing baseball in the World Series, or any of the other championship series for that matter, this year. I'm not sure what to call it exactly, but I've started to catch on to the new rules. Let me see if I have this right.

Situation 1: Pitcher strikes out batter, catcher rolls ball to mound, defensive team leaves the field, batter runs to first – two points.

Situation 2: Batter hits ball foul on 3-2 pitch – four points.

Sounds ridiculous, but check out the Chicago White Sox's postseason and you'll see what I'm talking about. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski struck out, but got to first on a botched call in Game 2 of the ALCS. Outfielder Jermaine Dye clearly hit a foul ball in Game 2 of the World Series, as he admitted later, but was awarded first after the umpire thought it hit his arm. Doesn't sound like much, but both plays changed the course of the game.

I'm not calling out the umpires on this one either. It's hard to watch everything on a baseball field, but we have the technology to help them. Why wouldn't we take advantage of that?

The outcome of a game should be decided by how the players perform, not by whether or not the officials were able to make the correct calls.

The arguments against installing the instant replay are ridiculous.

Who wants to sit around and wait for the umpire to review the play? Um, every Anaheim Angel fan in the country to start. My greatest hope is that every true sports fan would be willing to wait a few minutes for the right call.

In 1999, the year in which the NFL added the referee replay review to their system, 57 calls on the field were reversed. The year after that, 83 calls were changed. Eighty-three calls changed wild card races, playoff seeds and championships.

Another argument is that one call can't change a game; even the athletes will say this in a post-game interview. That's crazy. In professional sports, especially the playoffs, these games are usually going to go down to the wire. Five years ago the Super Bowl was won by one yard. It took the Astros 18 innings to beat the Braves in the NLDS. One call can decide a game.

When Dye was "hit" by that pitch he earned a lot more than first base. Two base runners would have been erased had the call been right and Wheeler gotten Dye out on a later pitch. Paul Konerko, the hottest hitter on the club right now, would've come up with no one on base, not the bases loaded. Wheeler would have pitched to Konerko after resting an inning, under a lot less pressure. One wrong call counted for at least three runs.

So explain to me how you ruin a sport by making sure it's played right. Explain to me why we shouldn't wait five minutes for the right call, instead of embracing the wrong one. Or I guess we could just play by this year's new rules.

Brett Okamoto is the Collegian's sports editor.




 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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Oct 252005
Authors: Scott Bondy

The ball trickles under the glove of Tony Graffanino. Johnny Damon checks his swing on a pitch way outside the strike zone for a called strike. Doug Eddings, the home plate umpire in Game 2 in the Angels-White Sox series, blinks and makes a horrible call, ultimately catapulting the Sox to a series victory. Human error is simply a part of baseball.

Don't disgrace the sport by installing instant replay.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked how he felt about the call after the game. Did he whine? Did he criticize the refs? Absolutely not. I'm not going to go so far as to say Scioscia is a classy guy or anything, but he certainly knows what he's talking about. He replied by stating that his team did not put themselves in a position to win the game. If they played well enough, no umpire's call should affect the outcome.

According to a recent AP-AOL poll, eight of 10 people surveyed thought that major league umpires do an excellent or good job. Only 1 percent rated them as poor. I'm guessing those are bitter Angels' fans.

Baseball has arguably the best officiating of any sport. The officials are full-time employees that have worked their way up through the officiating totem poll. They work their way to the majors, much like players do.

Judgment calls are what make the game so exciting and rowdy. Honestly, it just makes sports so exciting. You put an Angels fan and a Sox fan in a room. They watch Game 2 together. What happens? Probably a pretty good fight. Sports are about entertainment, not investigation.

Bud Selig doesn't plan on changing the rules anytime soon. In an interview with mlb.com, when asked if instant replay would benefit the game he said, "No, I think the human element in baseball is really very important." Selig is a joke of a commissioner and even he can get this right.

The last thing that baseball needs is to slow down the game. If I were commissioner I'd make games seven innings. I just can't watch three hours or more of baseball. I don't want to wait three minutes every time a manager decides to challenge a call.

If we're going to have instant replay in baseball, what do we need umpires for? We can just have the commentators make all the calls. Notice how I said replay in 'baseball' because in sports like football, the refs actually do work. This goes along with the argument that other sports are using instant replay. There are 16 NFL games in a season, a blown call could mean a blown season. There are 162 games in a MLB season, a blown strike call could mean, well nothing.

Even if they do institute instant replay, what's it going to be for? Balks? Checked swings? Who cares?

Most importantly, baseball is more for our entertainment than anything else. Let the game be played the way it's supposed to, because we love it for its perfections and its flaws.

Scott Bondy is the Collegian's associate managing editor for sports and special sections.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm