Al Clark was a professional umpire for thirty years, working more than three thousand games, including two All-Star Games, seven playoff series, and two World Series. Called Out But Safe (May 1, 2014) is his autobiography written with former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg. Below, Clark writes about the new "instant reply."
One of the great powers baseball holds for all its fans—from the little leaguers to the major leaguers—is continuity and consistency. From year to year and even decade to decade, the fans know not many changes will occur. Sure, some changes come in order to enhance fan interest, like holding more playoff games, or holding night games at Wrigley Field, or even league realignments to create regional rivalries, like the change made by the Houston Astros when they joined the American League to create a natural rivalry with the Texas Rangers of Arlington.
But seldom do the Lords of Baseball—the commissioner and the owners—change the rules of the game and parameters as they have done this year. The last time a baseball rule was changed was in the 1970s, when the American League adopted the Designated Hitter (DH) rule. This year “Instant Replay” has been adopted to ensure against certain plays being decided incorrectly by the umpires, and it has altered how a runner trying to score can “attack” home plate when the catcher has possession of the ball or how a catcher can position himself when waiting to receive a throw from another fielder.