MLB Instant Replays, NFL Analyzed

Howard Bryant, a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, talks about baseball's use of instant replays and NFL's kickoff week.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Politics, politics. Now, it's time for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Major League Baseball, depending on how you look at it, took one step toward modernity or maybe toward the apocalypse by introducing instant replays this week to review disputed homeruns. Our own Howard Bryant joins us. Howard, how are you?

HOWARD BRYANT: Hey, Scott, good morning. I thought when you said apocalypse, you were going to talk about the Cubs again.

SIMON: Five and a half games in front. Wait, I think even six this morning. And the Sox are a game in front.

BRYANT: They're doing everything right.

SIMON: I barely heard about who Senator McCain chose as vice president because I turned to the sports page. Howard, what do you think about these instant replays?

BRYANT: Well, I think that baseball responded to pressure. Baseball is the one sport that has always responded to pressure. And there is a great deal of pressure on the sport right now to get with it. Basketball has instant replay, football lives through instant replay, hockey has instant replay, and even tennis has some form of instant replay in terms of the technology that they use to see whether a ball is in or out. The problem with baseball, however, is that it's all judgment calls. Baseball is a sport filled with judgment calls, which is why you're only going to see limited instant replay for homeruns.

SIMON: As opposed to, like, the strike zone, which really is...

BRYANT: Oh, exactly. When I look at the sport, and I see the most - the plays where you need instant replay, it's with balls in strikes. And you're not going to have instant replay on safe or out calls or those types of - I don't think it works. I understand why they did it. I understand why they felt the need to do it. But I don't really think that - I think that with baseball, it is - there are so many different ways where you can win or lose a game. Obviously, if you're going to put a camera over by the homerun pole or the foul pole to see if a ball is a homerun, OK, I understand it. But I don't think that's going to solve some of the big issues.

SIMON: Let me ask about football because it's back this week. And Super Bowl champion, New York Giants, who are missing some key players...

BRYANT: Yep.

SIMON: ...play the Washington Deadskins.

BRYANT: On Thursday, I think it's going to be a very interesting kickoff to the NFL season because you've got this team that shocked the world and beat the patriots in the Super Bowl and still can't get any respect. No one is even picking the Giants to win their own division. That goes to the Dallas Cowboys, a team that can't seem to win in the postseason.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: It's very funny because the Giants are - we always say you win with defense, and yet they're one of the best defensive teams in the league and nobody is picking them. Very funny.

SIMON: Well, looking into the second week, OK, Brett Favre's - Brett Favre's New York Jets. The phrase does not trip off the tongue...

BRYANT: Against the New England Patriots.

SIMON: There's a team that believes in video replays, huh?

BRYANT: Absolutely.

SIMON: Huh! Sorry.

BRYANT: There are a lot of good storylines with the NFL this year, and I'm actually looking forward to it. I can't believe that it's so fast that football season is here already, because New Englanders still haven't really gotten over the Super Bowl. But I think the New York Jets are going to be a really good team. I think they're going to be a lot of fun to watch. I think that the Patriots, when they lost that game, I was thinking that it's going to take years for a team to recover from that type of loss. They've had two devastating, devastating losses in the last two years, so it's going to be very fun to see what they do this year.

SIMON: And is there an element that they have to add? I mean, I can't imagine how do you like add three extra points over the course of a season?

BRYANT: Yeah, they need to - the only thing they need to add is they need to win the last game of the season. That's it. They're the new Yankees, where you just have to win at the end.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN the Magazine, ESPN.com and ESPN the can of soup. Feel better, take care.

BRYANT: I hope so.

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