Everyone wants the right call to be made at sporting events, which is why every major sport has adopted instant replay. However, not everyone is on board with big moments in epic games events being reviewed.
Last night’s game between the Red Sox and Astros is a prime example of instant replay leaving a lot of people unhappy. Houston star Jose Altuve hit a ball to deep right field, and Boston right fielder Mookie Betts made a leaping home-run-rob attempt at the wall. It looked like Betts would have caught the ball with great timing on his jump, but a few fans reached out and interfered with the play.
I seem to be in the minority, but I believe umpire Joe West and his crew made the right call by ruling it fan interference—leading to Altuve being called out—after instant replay. But no one can know for sure whether Betts would have secured the ball before it went over the wall.
Ideally, there would have been a camera directly perpendicular to the angle of the fence, giving a clear view of the fans to determine how far they reached for the ball. We’ll also soon get to how camera angles can make replay better with another sport.
It was a big play in a huge game, and it’s still up for debate despite replay. Instead of stopping the game for a lengthy replay review, the umpires should come together, make their call off of what they saw, and go with it.
This is the case for all sports, as replays can kill the momentum of a game—it’s the biggest argument against replay review. It doesn’t get much worse than a game-altering play having to get reviewed just to make sure the correct call was made despite it being obvious; though I suppose the only thing worse is a call actually being blown.
In baseball, balls and strikes are still called by a home-plate umpire, so there’s plenty of human error. A bad call could alter a game, so why not just let everything go? There’s something that seems OK about lettings things play out and even out, especially in a game like baseball.
Jon Gruden has been very open about his thoughts on instant replay in football. He doesn’t like it, especially because of super-slow-motion replays that can put some doubt in even the most obvious of rulings. Pete Carroll, a fellow Super Bowl winner, has also come out against instant replay.
But there’s a flip side for football, with other great coaches wanting to correct instant replay. Bill Belichick has made the suggestion of putting cameras along the boundaries—the end zone and the sidelines—to get a better look at key moments in games. It makes zero sense that there isn’t a perfect 90-degree camera in every game at every stadium, and there really might as well be no replay if they aren’t going to do it right.
Both Belichick and the Baltimore Ravens are among those that have suggested penalties be reviewed. Targeting is currently reviewable, but what about more game-changing penalties like pass interference and holding? There have been far too many bad penalty calls by officials—which certainly happens and is understandably—that can impact the outcome of games just as much as reviewable plays like a catch or a turnover.
After all, the point of instant replays is getting calls right. If penalties can’t be included in that, it defeats the purpose of having instant replay in the first place.
The crux of the instant replay issue is that it’ll never be perfect. So, is it better to get most things right at the risk of stopping the momentum of games; or to have a classic, shorter game with human error and controversy?