A few years ago, ok quite a long time ago, our son’s baseball team was in the play-offs.  It was a big deal locally.  We were one run down with two outs, the last inning, and our son up on deck just feeling his oats. The hitter before him topped a soft ground ball to third.  He ran quickly and beat the ball to first base.  The scored was tied, and our son was coming to bat.

Our kid’s moment in infamy, his opportunity at walk-off stardom, was set.  Baby, it was glorious!  Glorious I tell yah!

But… (do you remember in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure he says “Everyone always has a big but…”)… whoever was the Ump behind the plate, who looked like he had just cashed in his chips at the local gambling joint, called our player out “Out!”

Wait… waayyyyyyyyyit!!!!

We have the video of it on a cell phone Mr. Umpire!  Look!  Look!  One of the parents has the videotaped on her phone!  It shows yes, clearly it shows, he’s safe!  Safe!  SAFE!

The umpire looked at us like we were rabid, nutball parents.  He had called the out.  The game had ended.  He didn’t even look up.  It was done.  So long!  He walked away like we were the wind, but not really even a weak breeze.

Just like that.   Robbed.

Robbed, ladies and gentleman!  Highway robbery!

Well, then let’s applaud:  Major League Baseball, like the other four national sports leagues in our country, has adopted a reply system.  The NFL, NHL and NBA all got there before the baseball guys, but our national pass time got there.  That said, if you ever review the replay rules, man, tell me you don’t get a headache, eye ache or both. Whoa!  I am talking formidable detail and precision. For a call to even be over turned,  proof must be very compelling (clear and convincing).  In the law, in order to prove fraud, you have to have clear and convincing proof; to get punitive damages you must demonstrate clear and convincing proof. So, turning over a play in baseball is not like a sacrifice bunt.  It ain’t laying anything down, at all.

Talk about a magnifying glass!

But what I want to know i where are these folks making the decisions? Who are they?  Do they talk among each other?  What goes on behind the curtains?

Doesn’t it seem awfully secretive?

I am not finding all that much about it, but this was published in 2014:

           NEW YORK — It’s called the Replay Operations Center, a 900-square-foot room at the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media in the historic Chelsea Market building. It’s a technological marvel, outfitted with state-of-the-art video equipment. And it’s the nerve center of Major League Baseball’s expanded replay system.
           Beginning Sunday, every play of every game this season that is subject to review will be analyzed in this room by at least one umpire and one trained technician. Whenever a manager formally challenges a call, or after the sixth inning, if the umpires on the field simply want a second opinion, this is where the ultimate decisions will be made.

Um, can I come and visit the Operations Center? Can I call there?  Do you get an automated answering machine when you call?

” Hello fan of baseball… You have reached the Operations Center of Major League Baseball. For complaints, press 1; for second guessing, press 2; for beer, that’s your problem; for shouting at mystery figures, press 3; all others, just be quiet and hang up.”

Research tells me the officials there are full-time umpires.  In fact, the MLB hired additional crews who rotate through New York as part of their regular work.  I also am finding there are as many as 12 cameras that feed into the Replay Operations Center.  There might even be more than 12, and the best angles are chosen before the game.  Replay officers have access to replays shown by the network covering the game.  And, from what I gather, every stadium now has a “high home” camera which, among other functions, can help the officials place runners as necessary.

I guess before I worry too much about baseball being “technologized to death”, there is only one challenge a manager even gets at the start of the game, but if he uses it and the call is overturned, he gets one more. He cannot have more than two, and only so many plays are even subject to replay.  So, it is quite controlled.  It’s not a drone without limitations…

On occasion I wonder what my dad would think if he came back to life for 24 hours.  He passed from the diamond back in 1978.  What would I show him first? A computer?  Our kids?  Cars?  Gas prices?  Cell phones?  Have him talk to Alexa?  Ask him what he thinks of the MLB’s reply system?  He’d be stunned, let me share that much with you. “Replay,” he would ask, “in baseball?  It’s the Ump’s call, son…. that’s how it is!”

If Ty Cobb came back for 24 hours, and saw the replay center, would he nod approvingly?  Would he want to punch someone instead? What would gentleman Joe DiMaggio say?  Would Thomas Edison think he ought to get some credit?  Can we trace the origins of the Replay Operations Center to drawings by Leonardo DiVinci that we have not yet discovered, but which may be hidden in his depictions of flying machines?

At this point I think we should all be entitled to one do-over.  So, from hereon out, if you do something that someone else criticizes, dislikes, finds fault with or chastises, just say:  Replay! 

Except, keep in mind that if the negative reaction is not overturned, you have lost your chance at a second one, for that day anyway. If MLB rules apply… Oh, and the person or persons deciding if you get a do-over, you don’t know them, you can’t talk to them, and you just have to understand their decision is, like, really final.

But still… the chance of a do-over.  Come on, that’s awesome!  And correcting an error, a misjudgment.  Now that’s huge.  I just have to find that Ump back then, so my kid can come up and knock in the winning run.