My friends and I often wonder about time travel. How cool it would be to go back and change various events. I wonder that as a fan of history. Some of my friends just wonder it in general, then gloomily excuse themselves to take a call from their wives.

No, traveling into the past certainly cannot happen. If it were possible, some Illuminati intern would book an express trip to 1995 and stop himself from saying, “Let’s make the Kardashians famous!”

While revisiting the past may not be possible, hopping years into the future apparently is. At least it is if you’re Major League Baseball, that rain-delayed dinosaur who just showed up to the 21st century after it finally approved the use of instant replay. It’s a move that thrilled most fans and upset some. I presume the fans who don’t like it have never lost money, pride, or pieces of drywall as a result of a botched call.

Yes, most fans and players cheered the sport for finally running through the old man stop sign at third base. Welcome to technology, Baseball.

To be fair, I have no room to judge someone’s overdue embrace of new ideas. I finally stopped getting film developed in 2006. I paid my first bill online in 2007. I didn’t have an iPod until 2008. Before that, it was one-hour photo labs, mailing checks, and sitting near a singing homeless man on the Queens-bound R-train.

My point is, it’s not uncommon for people to take their time embracing new ways of doing things. But using internet bill pay and enjoying digital music aren’t the same as running a sport played by millionaires with roid rage. If my using a Sony Walkman ever caused a 250-pound shortstop to lose his temper in my face, I would consider switching to something more efficient. And then I would ask him to pee in a cup. But alas, one step at a time. If it took baseball this long to review questionable calls, Pete Rose could be named curator of Cooperstown before they start any sort of adequate drug testing.

It’s about time Baseball utilized instant replay to improve games. I grew up watching the sport and I love it. But I remember several instances that made fans exclaim, “For the love of God, can’t someone do something about this?!” For example…
*Game 6 of the ‘85 World Series (maybe the worst call ever)
*The Jeffrey Maier catch (when a fan was allowed to shorten the fence by three feet)
*The Mets

Those are just a few of the many WTFs in baseball history. Indeed, not having the ability to review and correct mistakes was harder to fathom than the making of “Major League 3”. Ironically, not using instant replay to change bad calls was a bad call that needed changing.

Now that we’re finally here, how will it work? Here’s how. Managers may ask for a review one time during the first six innings and twice the rest of the game. Anything more than that will be considered “bitching and complaining”, which according to most players, is what they left the house to get away from in the first place. So that makes sense.

When a challenge is made, the four umpires on the field call an “Overseer”, the entity no one sees but who has the powers to review plays, affect outcomes, and prevent Bob Costas from aging.

Players and managers, however, still cannot argue balls and strikes. That also makes sense. It’s similar to the NFL, where coaches are not allowed to argue interference calls, holding penalties, or how racist another team’s mascot is. Some arguments are to remain outside the area of play. After all, drywall repairmen need to stay in business too.

Will it all work? Will it all make for an ideal solution? Probably not. Umpires, including the overseers, are still human. And to err is human. Someone put a grassy knoll in Houston’s center field, for crying out loud. And that was a conscious decision. So yes, foul-ups happen in baseball–then, now, and years from now.

That’s right. Years from now, which could be the next time Baseball fires up the flux capacitor and catches up again. Until then, enjoy your new and improved national pastime, America. I know I will, especially if I find the money to buy a flat screen. Anyone wanna buy a Walkman?

Categories: Columns