Sports Talk with Chris Singleton

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INSTANT REPLAY…Wouldn’t that be nice!
BY: Chris Singleton
Chris Singleton is a former Major League Outfielder and is currently a baseball analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. He is also a communication consultant for Game On and does team building sessions for corporate, sports, and nonprofit organizations.

If you’ve watched at least a few Major League Baseball games this year, you are probably aware that our national pastime now has instant replay (just like the NFL) as part of it’s process of reviewing decisions on close plays during games. As a former Major League player, I’m not too fond of the use of replay in baseball beyond determining if a ball is fair, foul, or a home run. I found that over the course of a 162 game season that there were only a handful of calls that umpires clearly missed. We have a saying in the game and it goes, “It all evens out.” The meaning behind that confession (prayer 🙂 ) is that there is a belief within those who make their living playing the game of baseball that there will be as many missed calls that you benefit from as missed calls that cost you.

In life, we all have some “bad calls” made against us at one time or another and well, life goes on, right? It seems that in at least half of those incidents the person who has the hardest time getting over the bad call is the one who made it! Could you imagine living with the guilt of
making a mistake that robbed players, coaches, fans, and a city of the jubilation of winning a World Series? (the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series in over 100 years. ouch!) Listen to this…

shutterstock_100885291_optA few years ago I watched veteran umpire Jim Joyce make the wrong call on what should have been the final out of a perfect game being pitched by Detroit Tigers pitcher, Armando Galarraga. The news of the mistake dominated every sports media outlet over the next few days. Pressure was on baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to use some executive power to overturn the call. Unfortunately it never happened and Galarraga was robbed of accomplishing a feat that would have changed his career resume from obscure to fascinating. The next day, a teary eyed Jim Joyce stood at home plate prior to the start of the game knowing that he had denied Galarraga of experiencing something that was a .01% chance of a baseball lifetime. Jim Joyce, who has always been a really good umpire, will always be remembered for that one “bad call.”

This has led me to the conclusion that instant replay is really most valuable to the one responsible for making the calls, “safe, out, fair, foul, home run…” not the players, coaches, and fans of baseball. Instant Replay… hmm… (I thought) ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we all had this resource for our daily lives?’ Imagine having the opportunity to call timeout after having made a questionable decision or judgement in your life, step away from the situation, get some other eyes on it, and then return to that situation and make the correct call. Here’s the bonus: there are no consequences for making the incorrect initial decision! No one ends up hurt or offended. “No harm. No foul.” as I often hear. The game continues on after a brief intermission.

Wouldn’t that be amazing??? Some of you reading this are thinking, “man, I sure could have used some instant replay back when…(you fill in the blank).” Well, unfortunately that option is only accessible in fairy tale land. Snap out of it friend; we’re living in the here and now. Since that’s the reality, let’s go through the same checklist that Major League umpires use for getting the call
right the first time and avoiding the need for instant replay:

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*SportsTalk with Chris Singleton appears exclusively in Suwanee Magazine. For more information, contact Chris at [email protected]

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