When Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig appeared at a conference hosted by St. Norbert College in May, he was asked about expanding the use of instant replay beyond determining whether home run balls clear the fence or foul poles.
"I've had very, very little pressure from people who want to do more," he said at the time.
Last week, about a month after that remark made news, New York Yankees outfielder Dewayne Wise dove into the seats along the left-field line to apparently catch a foul ball for a third out. Replays showed the ball dropping out of Wise's glove and a nearby fan retrieving it and holding it up triumphantly. Umpire Mike DiMuro, who was working the third base position, called the batter out and watched as Wise climbed out of the stands and confidently trotted toward the dugout, never asking to see the ball.
The result has been an avalanche of calls for expanded replay on talk radio, blogs and sports pages. But this wasn't a case of technology allowing for a better perspective; it was an ump failing to follow through and use common sense. If DiMuro had checked Wise's glove, as he should have, we wouldn't be having this argument about replay. The improvement that needs to be made isn't with instant replay, but with better accountability from the guys in blue. DiMuro should be suspended, if not demoted to the minors.
Deadspin, the brilliantly profane sports blog, has made an attempt in this direction with its "Better know an umpire" series this summer. Each ump is profiled, complete with "notable alleged blown calls" and a list of cities where he is particularly hated. The goal is entertainment, but the result might be an incremental increase in awareness of how often some of these guys screw up.