SURPRISE, Arizona - The last thing MLB needs is another reason to add a single second to a regular season baseball game, which the addition of instant replay will do. The counter is, of course, is the extra time is worth it if it provides a correct call.
Since there is no group in all of sports with a collective skin any thinner than MLB umpires, replay is not necessarily a welcome addition. These guys hate the remote possibility of being shown up, even though of the four big pro sports in North America MLB umpires are the best officiating crews.
In this, the first spring training season of replay, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has already seen one benefit.
"Guys are hustling now," Wash' told me recently. "Guys got lazy and now they are hustling to see all of it."
Most people in baseball will concede that umpire crews are good, and the human element is fine. Guys miss calls. The gripe has been a lot of umps will make calls when they are out of position to see the play.
BTW - One sign that an ump missed a call? He lets the player or manager rant and rant and rant without throwing him out.
"(An ump') will say, 'You might have been right,'" Washington said. "That's when they let you have their say."
Umps do not like being made to look bad. There is a reason why home stadiums are allowed to show only one replay of a close call - it's collectively bargained between the league and ump union. This group whines to TV execs not to show the strike zone on telecasts, even though TV people will admit it's merely a guide and not the exact strike zone. No mention of the fact that umps don't call the strike zone as it's stated in the rule book.
The design of adding replay is to correct the few calls the umps miss, not to embarrass them. As Wash' has already noticed, the fear of being made to look bad is forcing these guys to work a bit harder.
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