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More replay for MLB, please

They’re thinking about it, but don’t rush them.

Major League Baseball currently is exploring the expansion of instant replay with the World Umpires Association, and no timetable has been specified for any adjustments to the current policy.

The owners and the MLB Players Association agreed in collective bargaining last year for a new Basic Agreement that replay could be expanded to be used on fair-foul calls down the lines and balls deemed trapped by fielders. Any formal expansion of replay requires collaboration between owners, players and umpires. Replay is currently used only to determine the legitimacy of home runs — whether the ball was fair or foul and whether the ball was over the fence.

“I’ve had very, very little pressure from people who want to do more,” Commissioner Bud Selig told a small group at a sport and society conference at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

The umpires union has told MLB officials in recent meetings that a significant assessment of options needs to take place if replay is to be changed. Right now, any possible expansion would not occur until next season at the earliest.

Want to know why this is needed? Here’s one reason:

This particularly egregious example of a blown call, which happened in April, has been widely discussed around the Internet. Arguably, instant replay isn’t really needed for stuff like this. I mean, at least one other umpire must have seen what everybody else in the stadium saw on that play. If there were some way for another umpire to step in and say “that call was wrong”, either on his own or via an appeal from one of the teams, replay would be superfluous in a case like this. But there is no way to challenge a call in baseball as you can in football, so this sort of thing is breezily dismissed by the so-called purists as “the human element” instead of decried as the wholly avoidable travesty that it is. But hey, as various people have pointed out, at least this terrible call didn’t ruin a perfect game or change the outcome of a World Series.

The bottom line is this: Baseball games should be decided by the players. Sure, there will always be external factors that cannot be controlled – wind, weather, bad hops, etc. But bad umpiring needn’t be one of those factors. Whether or not technology is part of that solution, the culture has to change. I don’t see any reason why that can’t start now.

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