Instant Mistake: bringing replay to baseball
"I'm just for getting the calls right. It's nothing against the umpires or trying to take away the human element of the game. I'm for getting the call right because there's so much at stake. Let's not have something happen at a very pivotal moment that changes the course of history for a particular franchise."
-Ken Williams, White Sox' GM, to MLB.com
Of all the recent opining on Thursday's implementation of replay in baseball, this one grabbed my collar the tightest. And it's not because of Williams' candor, nor his overt care and concern toward the gravity of winning. Rather, it's the "changes the course of history" phrase within his last sentence. Ironic, I think, the paradox created therein between the longevity of our nation's game, and the hopes of an unknown future.
I'm not for replay. Regular readers of this space surely know this. And for what has been readily discussed by myself and countless others, little has been said about the bizarre and frantic rush to remove human judgment.
Just ten years ago, baseball GM's voted 29-1 against replay. A few years later, it was 25-5 against. And now, so suddenly, it's being implemented in the middle of a season? What the hell?
Replay will be employed (for now) only for home run "boundary calls," balls whose fair/foul standing or in/out status comes into question. But that won't last.
"This is most limited. I know there's been some concern that if you start here who knows what this could lead to? Not as long as I'm the Commissioner."
-Bud Selig to MLB.com
Bud Selig is 74 and his contract expires after the 2012 season. If baseball can go from the 29-1 vote against replay to this year's 25-5 for in less than a decade, will it really take that long before opinions mount regarding bringing replay to other facets of our game? Interesting, I think, how this vote shift of the last ten years mirrors the every-reliant crutch our world outside the white lines leans on for technology as evidenced by cell phones, email, GPS, texting.
Surely, this version of replay will help umpires. But you have to have batting gloves in your ears to believe that, say, plays like the recent one involving A.J. Pierzynski against the Rays won't further the discussion to the point of: "Well we have this technology at our disposal and it's working. Why don't we get this call right, too."
The doors guarding baseball's purity are open, and their breadth will only widen with time,
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry possessed a vision known as "Technology Unchained," which, to my semi-luddite mind, always meant a world in which technology not only works for us but "with" us. Yet, did you ever see an episode of The Next Generation where the computer goes down? The humans run about like idiots.
I'm old fashioned. I don't own a cell phone. And before I began this Blog the only thing I was embedding were girls that liked sportswriters. Baseball (stats and drugs notwithstanding) is a bastion of unchanging culture, history, nostalgia and consistency for people like me. And maybe, gentle reader, for you.
In my cosmic thoughts: people are supposed to make mistake. In games and in life. There's a domino effect to the universe, one thing leans upon another, leads toward another, and a road is formed. Things happen, in my mind, for reasons that we may not always understand. But we live, and worlds are created every moment.
Before reply, champions were still crowned and they were labeled as such for a reason. It's not always the best players, or the best coaches, or the best teams -- but it's the road, and the destination.
Baseball is by no means ruined, but the "course of history" is indeed changed. For better, for worse, forever.
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