Upon further review, the expanded practice of going to the monitor for every questionable call needs further review.
Do we really need to second-guess every close call? At what point do we decide that officiating — both the calls that are frequently right and sometimes wrong — are simply part of the game, not a matter for pseudo-judicial review?
Apparently, we are not there yet.
Add baseball to football and basketball as the sports using technology to confirm and correct the calls made during play.
You know the drill, officials stop play and huddle over the replay from every conceivable angle. Was the toe on the line? Did the ball beat the runner? Did the receiver have possession?
Frequently, the endless cycle of video only confounds the question as different views produce different conclusions. At many other times, the zebras actually got the call correct in the first instance.
Regardless of the outcome, a five-minute, momentum-killing recess can be expected. Players congregate along the sidelines, trying to stay loose. Fans grow tired of video-board replays. Home viewers have time to take out the trash and pay the bills.
It is all well-intended. But it is killing the experience.
We might as well call in Judge Judy to preside over the whole mess.
It started with football, where NFL officials gather under a hood on the sidelines to view video replays that can be initiated by a coach or by an official in the booth, depending on the circumstances.
You know the drill. Fans (at least those at home) are shown replays from every possible angle, often leading to conflicting conclusions depending on the view. Meanwhile, the referee takes several minutes to reach a conclusion. More often than not (about 55 percent of the time in the NFL), the play is upheld.
In basketball, reviews have become more frequent, subject to the officials’ discretion. A review of a key play in the last minute of the Kentucky-Louisville contest in the NCAA tourney took more than four minutes and resulted in no change.
The last two minutes of close contests — already lengthy due to fouling and timeouts — has been elongated even further. Basketball is a rhythm sport that has lost
Coaches who long told players to play through bad calls have been turned into sideline litigators, pleading for review.
The replay practice now has expanded to baseball with questionable usefulness. MLB adopted the procedure this season, giving managers the ability to challenge two calls a game.
In the first week of games, challenges were many, but rarely game-altering. That is to be expected.
In fact, if MLB’s look at last season’s calls hold true, review will seldom be a factor in the final outcome. That is because there simply are not that many “mistakes,” if we really call them that.
According to MLB:
Umpires missed a total of 377 calls all year. That’s an average of one blown call per 6.4 games. But because each team has the ability to challenge, the more applicable rate is one blown call for every 12.8 team games. Force plays and tag plays accounted for 86.4 percent of all blown calls.
Not once last season was there a game in which umpires missed more than two calls against one team. That means there is unlikely to be a case where a team is hurt if it uses challenges wisely.
As the next game you watch comes to an inevitable screeching halt for officials to go to the monitor—and virtually every sport now has some form of video review—ask yourself whether it is worth it.
Technology is supposed to make things easier. Is that really the case here?
Yes, games are perhaps more technically accurate, but that comes at a tradeoff with time and momentum.
It seems to me that the quest to be right has turned into a wrong.
Upon further review, we just don’t need further review.
Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.