Play it again, ump

This is about instant replay. But bear with me for a couple of paragraphs of context.

Houston resident Bob Watson, baseball’s top official for rules and on-field operations, was at Minute Maid Park this afternoon on other business but took time to oversee the removal of the narrow, yellow plank that served as the vertical marker separating in-play from out-of-play where the left-center field fence rises from 10 feet to 25 feet.

Workers painted a yellow stripe directly onto the brick wall the plank had been affixed to, which should produce a truer bounce on long balls that are close calls in that area, helping the umpires make the right calls on plays such as Geo Soto’s inside-the-park home run Monday night that should have been ruled a conventional homer.

Sot’s homer call (which, obviously would have been huge if he’d been held up at second or third) and the fallout serves as just another example to help stir the pot that’s been heating up a lot lately — particularly with the New York Mets’ Carlos Delgado losing a homer over the weekend when one umpire overruled the correct call made by an ump in position to call the play.

So should instant replay be introduced to baseball for home run calls? Players in the Cubs clubhouse had mixed reaction. Manager Lou Piniella said he doesn’t like the idea. GM Jim Hendry said he used to be strongly against it but has softened his opinion when it comes to home run balls and fair-foul calls only.

I like the idea. Give the umps another tool to help get the call right. And reviewing the video in these strict, specific cases shouldn’t take any more time than it takes to argue the call without the replay.

Anybody else?

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