Thursday, November 12th
As Ive been laid up at the house for the last week, dont ask, Ive been able to watch even more sports on TV than usual. (I know what youre thinking, and yes, I have been contacted by the Guinness folks.(not the beer!)) One of the things that struck me, yes I said one of, is the incredible amount of instant replay use and its consequences.
Whether it be in hockey, basketball or football, its hard to watch a game without a controversial play being re-played over and over. And that is the point to fans. If we can see it, why cant everyone? Almost everyone Ive talked to at the bar wants instant replay to be used, in every sport.
As the powers to be of Major League Baseball met at an OHare hotel this week, fans, including yours truly, were hopeful that the expanded use of replay in baseball would be discussed. This past years post-season was exhibit one, and should have been fresh on everyones mind. There were almost as many frustrating calls as what I experience with my AT&T cell phone service. Thats right, almost! Those of you talk to me on the phone know how annoying it can be for a call to be dropped and its the same when youre watching a baseball game. Especially, a playoff game!
Im always amused by the archaic view that the replay process will take away from the flow and integrity of the game and most of all, take away the human element. What?! How does getting a call right take away from the game? The A-Rod home run call took about 2 minutes and it reversed ANOTHER wrong call by the umpires on the field.
There are several things that need to be considered here. First of all, the game is being played at a speed that seems to be too fast for the naked eye. Baseball is full of calls that are assumptions, most notably, when a ball beats a runner to a base, hes almost always automatically called out, whether the tag was applied, or not. Theres a reason for the expression. phantom tag.
As far as the integrity argument, are you kidding me? What can be more honest than what is? Getting the call right should be first and foremost. Mistakes will be made, but if its easily correctable, why not fix it? Just like say, finally admitting that drugs were an issue, and then banning them. Better late than never, right?
The main thing though is to understand the age in which we live. These are your fathers games but theyre being taken to a whole new level. So is the way in that they are watched. Hi-def TV with TiVo enables the home viewer an incredible experience, and soon enough it will be the norm. Folks at home dont have to wait for a replay from the network to see what they just saw. I know its hard to believe, but the technology is moving at light-speed. My 3 year old wakes up every morning and turns on our computer. (NO! She is not typing this for me!) In fact, she has a computer lab in her pre-school! The next wave of fans are going to find Don Dekingers blown call in the 85 World Series as a reminder of how antiquated things were in those times of Huey Lewis and in-dash cassette players.
In a game that has souped-up the ball, shrunk the dimensions of the field of play and made the strike zone the size of a grapefruit in an effort to increase scoring and increase its fan base, why does it not recognize that this fan base is more tech-savvy? The NFL has, and although still not as fast as all would like, understands that this is a new age and you have to think with it to keep up.
As a parent that watches kids who are borderline addicted to all of their electronic accompaniments, I understand that its a brave new world, whether I like it or not. I just wish that one of the games that I love would get its collective head out of the sand and realize that keeping up with the times is not necessarily a bad thing. It just might be the thing that allows the game to prosper in the century ahead.