I like instant replay. I don’t like long games. The biggest criticism of adopting an instant replay system in baseball is that it would take too long. For home run calls, we regularly see umpires disappear under the Stadium for five or more minutes at a time to check a call. Games are already very long, and managers asking to replay bad calls would take quite a bit of time.
My solution would be the “challenge flag” system. A manager would get two challenge flags per game. At any point in the game, the manager can use a challenge flag to dispute any call – balls and strikes, out at first, foul ball, home run, whatever. At no other time could umpires even elect to review the tape.
I like this system for a few reasons. First off, it expands instant replay to covering calls all over the field. Home run mistakes are nice, but they are infrequent. Umpires make basic human mistakes all the time because they can’t see a full picture of the action. High definition television cameras, on the other hand, see pretty much anything these days. Still, a call on the field could only be overturned if there is conclusive evidence that a mistake was made.
If a disputed call takes five minutes to check, then the game is only delayed by 20 minutes maximum. I also don’t think that managers will necessarily use their challenge flags every game. Because you only get two, it could be useful to save at least one for a major disputed call, and not waste it on a perceived blown call at 1st base with 2 men out and no one on. And Joe Girardi throwing a flag on the field is fun and dramatic, and adds a little bit to managers arguing with umpires.
Its silly to let human mistakes by umpires dramatically derail the game. They only have two eyes, and make mistakes all the time. The only downside that I can think of, besides slightly longer games, is that managers might use their challenge flags to delay a game and get a reliever warmed up. Sure, this might be an issue, but managers have all sorts of game delaying tactics that they use for the same purpose anyway. We saw it last night as Joba waited for Rivera.