It’s as inevitable as summer following spring. One day, Major League Baseball will implement an expanded instant replay system.

And it couldn’t happen a minute too soon.

Last Wednesday night, Oakland A’s infielder Adam Rosales hit what appeared to be a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of the A’s game against the Cleveland Indians. But it was incorrectly ruled a double by crew chief Angel Hernandez. Even worse, the call was upheld after the game’s four umpires left the field to review a replay, which clearly showed the ball bouncing off a railing some two feet above the outfield fence.

On the same night in Tampa Bay, Toronto Blue Jays infielder Maicer Izturis claimed a ground ball went off his foot, extending his at-bat. The umpires huddled and agreed, even though replays clearly showed the ball never hit Izturis.

The next night in Houston, Astros reliever Hector Ambriz took over for Wesley Wright before Wright had thrown a single pitch to the Los Angeles Angels – a clear violation of MLB rules. Unfortunately, that night’s umpiring crew wasn’t aware of the rule and allowed the substitution to occur.

MLB Commissioner Bug Selig will never be mistaken for an old-school baseball guy. He’s embraced inter-league play with both arms and has expanded baseball’s playoffs in the face of incessant whining by traditionalists. So Selig will have little problem endorsing an expanded instant replay system for baseball. The NHL’s centralized replay office would be the best model to emulate.

But having the technology is only part of the issue. The bigger problem will be getting baseball’s umpires on board with the idea.

For despite all their obvious faults, today’s umps are the most egotistical bunch of sticks-in-the mud around. They have historically refused to let anything undermine their God-given rulings.

Once content to stay behind their masks, umpires now consider any opposing viewpoint a direct affront to their authority, and they actively seek out confrontation to emphasize their standing.

In each of the three incidents last week, a manager came out to complain about the blown call, and in each case that manager was quickly tossed from the game, because there simply is no questioning the umpire’s decision. Not once did any of the umps involved in last week’s debacles apologize or even acknowledge the blown calls after the fact, even after fines and suspensions were levied against them.

No, today’s umps are firmly entrenched in the dark ages, and there’s no room for debate.

Some have gone so far as to speculate that Hernandez did not overrule the blown home run call in the A’s game because, as the second base ump, it was initially his call. So regardless of the irrefutable evidence of the replay, Hernandez simply refused to admit he got it wrong.

Instant replay has benefited tennis, hockey and football – those sports have recognized the importance if getting the call on the field correct if fans have all the evidence on their TVs at home. Even in basketball, referees now huddle around courtside monitors to ensure the calls they’ve made are correct. Sometimes human error can be avoided.

But all the technology in the world won’t make a difference if baseball’s umpires refuse to acknowledge that, even once in a while, they might actually be wrong.

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