The NBA gets what MLB doesn't

The NBA does all sorts of things serving to frustrate fans and players alike, this year's absurdly Draconian, totally confusing, Christmas for the checkbook industry directive for enforcement of technical fouls being the latest example. (That sentence cost me two grand.) But at least they're not like Major League Baseball, unwilling to acknowledge the existence of modern technology.

Thursday, the league announced tweaks to their instant replay rules, expanding the circumstances under which it can be used. Via the league's press release, refs can now go to the tape:

  • During the last two minutes of regulation and the entire duration of any overtime period, to determine whether the ball touched the rim and thus whether the shot clock should be adjusted.

  • During the last two minutes of regulation play and the entire duration of any overtime period, to determine which of two players on opposing teams caused the ball to become out-of-bounds. This modification expanded the previous rule to include the entirety of an overtime period instead of just the last two minutes of an overtime period.

  • During a replay review of an out-of-bounds call, to determine when the ball is out of bounds for purposes of adjusting the game clock and shot clock.

  • At any point during the game, to determine which player should attempt free throws after a foul occurred.

  • At any point during a game, to determine whether a foul that was called a clear-path-to-the-basket foul met all the criteria of a clear-path-to-the basket foul.

Revolutionary? No. Common sense? Yes, and indicative of the measured, open-minded, incremental path the league has taken on replay. Fix what can be fixed, apply replay where it can safely be applied. Unfortunately, MLB seems to resist modern advancement like flat-Earthers do spherical bodies. Personally, I think adding it to baseball is a little more complicated a prospect than it gets credit, but there are certainly small, simple ways in which it can be used effectively. Kudos to the NBA for showing more flexibility.