In football, instant replay makes sense. Even with a team of seven officials covering each play, sometimes you just can’t be in the right place at the right time to make the right call when 22 guys are flying around at super-human speeds. What’s more amazing is how often they get the call right despite those circumstances. When it’s unclear whether or not they get it right, though, instant replay is there to confirm or overturn the call. The game goes on.
Reviewing close plays in baseball is a little more contentious. Generally I’m in favor of the evolution of the game, especially in contrast to my friend, Mr. Lung, who would prefer that all baseball players wear wool uniforms and be issued a chaw of chewing tobacco prior to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. But official review is one place where I’m not so sure.
The problem is, baseball is already a slow-paced game. If you open it up to review, even that flow gets messed up. Even the limited official review capacity that now exists for home runs seems ridiculous. Either you make all plays reviewable or none at all. Honestly, although I’m all for baseball’s future facing development, review is not an area where I think that makes sense.
Review does make sense in the American Democratic system, though. Last week’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act proved that. More surprisingly, John Roberts showed himself to be a model Chief Justice in his Constitutional application and limited justification in the majority opinion. For me, it’s telling that although most Republicans are angry that the law was upheld, they’re not angry at Justice Roberts. In fact, he basically made it clear in his decision that although he may not agree with the policy aspects of the law, that it met the necessary threshold to be held constitutional.
That’s one of the beautiful things about our sometimes maddening and often baffling system of government. Laws get checked at three points by three different bodies and only after that process runs it course does the law go into effect. Granted, the application of the same system to baseball would mean that individual games could continue indefinitely but that’s why the choice of arbiter is so important. The Supreme Court doesn’t hear every single case that comes up through the courts or face challenges to every single law passed by Congress. It only deals with the game-changers, events that can redefine precedent or application or laws that are unclear.
Football is similar. Coaches choose when to throw the challenge flag and generally save it for events that are unclear, that could change the complexion of the game or that seem completely erroneous to them. They don’t always win but they at least have the option to challenge the initial ruling.
That’s one of the big areas where review in baseball fails. Yes, it’s not awful to review homeruns to make sure they were fair or be absolutely certain that a fan didn’t interfere. I’m sure there are quite a few Baltimore Orioles fans who wish that review had been in place in the 90’s. But what about that phantom final out of Armando Gallaraga’s almost perfect game? If Leyland had been able to challenge the ruling, Gallaraga would have had the mark and we wouldn’t still be talking about it. But, if you start making plays like that reviewable, it’s not long before you have to start making called strikes, check-swings and everything else reviewable, too. The fact of the matter is, it just isn’t feasible and if you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it all.
Here’s how I’d call it. Review: good for football, great for government but bad for baseball.
A few weeks ago, umpire Greg Gibson found himself on the wrong end of the following headline:
Which obviously begs the question, should Gibson now change his name, perhaps considering the following as an option?:
All kidding aside, umpires have a crappy job. Pretty much the only time anyone notices you is when you blow a perfect game or get nailed in the ‘nads by a Strasburg steamer. With the advent of the home run review system, the job got even crappier. As radar guns and pitch monitors get ever better, it’s probably only a matter of time before people start making noise about taking that responsibility away from the umps as well.
Today, though, on the day after Memorial Day, I just want to take a minute to salute the men in blue who put life, limb and the ability to procreate out there on the line everyday. Now, get yourself a pair of glasses, get back out there and try not to give this game away, too.
We learned many things from Jim Joyce, Armando Galarraga and the infamous Imperfect Game of June 2, 2010. We learned that throwing beer bottles at the wall may cause significant DAMAGE (to the beer bottle, possibly the wall too). We learned that styling one’s facial hair after the Pringles man cannot disguise MISTAKES. And we also learned that the best way to avoid controversy, is to AVOID controversy.
So when Philip Humber threw that wild 3-2 breaking ball two feet off the plate on Saturday and Brendan Ryan checked his swing, I felt all of the fury, all of the tension, all of the RAGE from the Imperfect Game ALL over again. Except homeplate umpire Brian Runge called it a swing, AJ Pierzynski threw the ball to first and the celebration began.
OH BUT THE CONTROVERSY!!!
In my house, I had a hard time celebrating Humber’s gem because I was already seeing the asterisk-calling headlines, I could already hear Mariners fans (all three of them) flooding the sports talk shows with vitriol. And as Brendan Ryan argued with Runge about the call, I knew it was time for me to go outside to get some fresh air before my phone started to blow up with imperfect texts.
Except… none of the above actually happened. Brendan Ryan dropped the subject. He tipped his cap and moved on. The networks — as if taken over by an Orwellian machine of greater good (a fantasy in itself) — didn’t even show the replays of Ryan’s checked swing. The Wizard said “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” and I — WE ALL — gleefully obliged, even though it sorta felt dirty doing so.
We owe that guilt-stained dirty feeling to Brendan Ryan. In fact, whether it is a good thing or not, Philip Humber’s perfect game will live on unscathed by controversy because Brendan Ryan simply let it go. He shut his mouth. He went about his business. And now we are to forget.
For a guy who was labeled as “a distraction” and a “clubhouse cancer” during his St. Louis Cardinal tenure, it’s nice to see Brendan being recognized for something else. Admittedly, I never would have bet it’d be for saying… nothing.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I was but a child when I first watched his infamous Cosmos series — a series that, for the very first time, made me realize that the mysteries of life, of the universe, of existence as we know it are far more grand and far more expansive than anything I could ever understand in my lifetime.
But, more importantly, it taught me to always ask questions.
And that’s what I’m doin’ today… ‘cuz some of this shizzo just doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s take a look at some contemporary mysteries of the universe, shall we?
Kyle Farnsworth Has a Job. Gregg Zaun Has a Job. Jermaine Dye Does NOT Have a Job. Again.
How does this work? How does a bonafide game-yacker who cries a lot get paid $3 plus million a year while Jermaine Dye sits at home drinking scotch, watching NBA League Pass and surfing the 900 channels? And Gregg Zaun? Isn’t he an AARP officer? The dude’s knees must be concrete by now! Dye had what it takes to play last year and no one gave him a deal because he supposedly wanted too much money. Well, I’m sorry, but I’d rather pay Dye decent money to do his thang rather than throw it at the above two fellas knowing the bad days have a good chance of outweighing the good.
Armando Gallaraga’s Very Bad… Life
He went from rookie sensation (2008) to minor league road block (2009) to work-in-progress (2010) to the imperfect game… THEN… in just a matter of hours went from agreeing to a $2.3 million contact to being DESIGNATED FOR ASSIGNMENT! DFA’D YO!!! That’s the sort of thing that happens to the Wilson Betemits of the world, not someone who had a perfect game ripped from his reach!
Matt Drudge’s Recent Lapse in Calling President Obama a Socialist
Oh… wait. Nevermind. Mystery solved because there is no mystery. He just went two days without a dig. That’s… strange, but not mysterious.
As far as I know, vegetarians can eat donuts.
And that’s a whole lot of donuts.
Yet I do not doubt Prince’s ability to devour them all.
Hate me ‘cuz I went a whole week without a Prince-Fielder-Is-Fat joke, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
As a Detroit sports fan, I have a better than average reason to detest the people who officiate our matches. The Lions, woebegone team that they may be, have lost to the Chicago Bears twice this season, both times due in part to questionable calls. Tigers’ fans will never forget the perfect game that should have been nor the umpire, Jim Joyce, who made the fateful call.
For other teams, the solution is to strike back and do something. White Sox fans like to charge the field and pummel the ump. Phillies fans….ok, well, Phillies fans don’t really count since they like to beat up little girls. Or at least vomit on them.
Detroit fans, though? We just continue to take it on the chin from the refs. How about we go to the video for a graphical representation:
You stay classy, Detroit.
And so in this Podcast…
Jeff and Johanna welcome a very special guest, Second City funny man Mark “Pie” Piebenga, to the Logan Square Studio for an RSBS Podcast pow-wow of epic proportions (we would like to thank Miller Lite for making it, as the kids say, ‘epic’)! From Jim Joyce’s ‘stache to Nolan Ryan’s pomposity to Nyjer Morgan’s right hook to Bobby Scales’… existence?… all the gloves come off as the fellas look back at the 2010 season and gear up for the winter with plenty of chuckles and plenty of beer. All to make you laughy laugh!
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For more on Mark’s work on RSBS‘ Ninemen’s Morris series, check out this story then click on the Ninemen’s Morris tag at the bottom for more early 20th century hilarity!
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*Special thanks to our PodMaster Keith Carmack. Keith is involved in some impressive projects himself. Check out his work at Undercard Films. Seriously. You should do it. If you don’t, you might find out about his MMA skills first hand. Holla!!!
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Recorded Wednesday, November 10, 2010
You would think that with the Tigers’ recent vault into the top spot in the AL Central I would be happy. But I’m not.
There’s just too much going wrong for all this to continue. The Tigers have been winning but it is in spite of, not because of, the baseball gods that they do so. Don’t believe me? Look at the list. Galarraga’s (nearly) perfect game. Zumaya’s horrific injury. Damon’s phantom 3rd strike against the Braves. There’s only one logical conclusion. Despite the Tigers’ run, the baseball gods have it in for them. In fact, if you could peer in on those gods right now as they address the Tigers, it would probably sound a little bit like this:
“Wanna make $14 the hard way?” Well, at least that would buy me a beer and a hotdog at the game, both of which make the gods’ antipathy a little easier to swallow.
I hate to pile on the French since this hasn’t been one of the best weeks in their history but I have to add one more thing before we let this go. As you have probably noticed, I have a little thing about sportsmanship. This is somewhat awkward since I tend to be a terrible sport myself and have even been known to throw at opposing batters while playing softball (yeah, seriously). But, knowing this weakness in myself makes it much easier to spot it in others.
For every Armando Galarraga there’s an Alex Rodriguez. For every Nancy Kerrigan there’s a Tonya Harding. And for every Carlos Parreira there’s a Raymond Domenech. Raymond Domenech? Maybe this will refresh your memory:
Refusing to shake the hand of your opposite number on the world’s biggest stage is not exactly the best way to end a career. It’s not like Parreira had insulted Domenech’s mother and sister the way Italian defender, Marco Materazzi, is reputed to have done in the lead up to Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt during the final of the 2006 World Cup.
And you know what, even if he had insulted Domenech’s mother wouldn’t the ultimate payback be shaking the man’s hand and showing that you’re the bigger person?
It has been a rough few weeks for the French. Their retirement age is about to go up to 62 and their World Cup team has become the biggest French snafu since the Maginot Line. However, intractable situations give us all the opportunity to shine and Domenech totally missed his. Me, I just make sure I’m not pitching when I play softball.
And so in this Podcast…
Dear readers galore FINALLY get to meet THE one, the ONLY, Mr. Allen Krause as he joins Jeff and Johanna to discuss all things urgent, all things necessary. And it’s all made possible by science. And hard work. And Skype. Judge for yourself. Among the titillating
topics of discussion: Strasburg as Jesus, the difference between anathema and an enema (it’s important), starting a Pete Rose for US WBC Team Player/Manager petition on Facebook, Gallaraga’s thingy, the Lou Piniella Mailbag and much,
to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
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thanks to Keith Carmack — our engineer, director, editor and
all-around sound guru. His Undercast
podcast is the bomb shizzy, by the way. It’s available on iTunes and
is posted regularly at Undercard
Recorded Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Despite all the controversy and repeated airings of the historically disputed play at first base, the ultimate effect of Armando Galarraga’s almost-perfect, perfect game seems to have been an outbreak of good sportsmanship.
Of course Galarraga has quickly established himself as a stand-up guy with his reaction to the call and his level-headedness when dealing with the aftereffects. That in and of itself is impressive. In fact, when compared to certain other players known for their general lack of sportsmanship (yes, I am once again looking at you, A-Rod), Galarraga comes across as a role model for anyone taking up the sport.
His behavior has been contagious, too. First, the ump apologized for the blown call. Then the two of them appeared together at the start of the next day’s game and acted as though the events had somehow brought them closer. But this is where things really start to get weird.
In following the career of Hugo Chavez, a Venezuelan who also aspired to play professional baseball, I have never been struck by a sense of restraint. El Presidente says what he wants and isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade (or a president an ignoramus — or worse depending on how you translate the word Chavez actually used). But even Hugo seems to have been affected by Galarraga’s magnanimity saying in his weekly address that it was simply a mistake before moving on.
Wait a minute! There wasn’t even a claim that the imperial oppressor had done its worst to hold down a poor Venezuelan? Nope. Like I said, Galarraga’s demeanor easily cooled what could have been an incendiary situation and that seems to have also cooled off what are normally much hotter heads.
So, once again, here’s to you, Armando Galarraga. In a world of fiery tempers and sorely lacking graciousness, you are the new anti A-Rod.
Thanks to L for the news on Chavez’s broadcast and the gist of the article.