Instant Replay in Baseball's Future?
It Will Be if These Guys Have Their Say
Charlotte, NC - The Fall Classic is upon us. It's that time of year when millions of Americans turn on their TV sets to watch baseball. But for a couple of Chicago lawyers and Chicago Cubs fans, this time of year brings up memories of their team's 2003 season. Walter Yukanan says, “In Cubs lore, I tell you, it's one of the most important plays in their history right now.
He's talking about the now infamous catch by Cubs fan Steve Bartman. Many Cubs fans believe Bartman's catch robbed the Cubs of a chance at a World Series Title. 8 years later Walter Yurkanan and fellow attorney Thomas Hoffman wrote a book about that incident called “Mad Ball, the Bartman Play.” Long story short – they believe that catch and the subsequent turn of events is all the result of a blown call by the Umpire. As a result, Yurkanan and his partner are calling for Major League Baseball to review its process for selecting umpires. He tells FOX Charlotte, “there's 100 umpires and have they scoured the world to find the most effective people... I'm not so sure."
Former MLB player Jeff Schaeffer agrees. He says, "They're evaluated, but you know what, it's a union and it's a fraternity and it's a tough market to crack and these guys go on for 20 years as an umpire."
One way Yurkanan and Hoffman suggest improving the game is to expand the use of instant replay. Hoffman says, "If not every game at least during the end of the season and playoffs and it certainly shouldn't be limited to home runs."
On that issue, Schaefer isn't so adamant. He describes himself as a traditionalist when it comes to the game. "Are you gonna have instant replay on an accountant? You gonna have instant replay on a lawyer and all this other stuff. We're so bent on sports being the game of perfection and any sport that we're playing to be perfect and it's fanatical."
But for the sake of the game and fans, Yurkanan and Hoffman have formed what they call the Mad Ball Commission. The commission's findings? Baseball needs instant replay and what better stage than the World Series. They point to the Steve Bartman case and his alienation as an example why. As Yurkanan puts it, "I think that play has ratcheted up the stakes. If there's a play in this World Series, God forbid, which is controversial -- it's going to elevate it. If a fan is involved, unfortunately, it's going to elevate that fan."