Friday, August 16, 2013

MLB goes to the tape

MLB just announced they will be using more video reviews next season. Coaches can challenge calls just like the NFL. So now we can sit through more long pauses in baseball games. We don't have to endure the long walks to the mound, the warmups of relief pitchers, the commercial breaks every half inning, the seventh inning stretch ONLY. Now we can wait while the umpires get together and call NY or wherever for conclusive video evidence to change a call. Just like the NFL. Call me old and out of touch with technology - Ok I know you did - but I have been playing and coaching baseball and watching baseball games live and on tv for a long time and so now that I have established my "fan cred", I can say, I don't like it. Not one bit. America's pastime is passing. Some would say evolving to a higher level. I would say it is changing the character of the game, it's essence. Baseball is played between the lines with one team trying to score runs while the other team tries to stop them. Each team employs strategies to do that. The first change detrimental to baseball was the introduction of the DH which eliminated the need to strategize around a pitcher who was known as a weak hitter. Would he bat, and if he did, would he bunt, or would the manager pinch hit effectively removing him from the game and necessitating a call to the bullpen. There have been numerous changes since. The use of all kinds of statistics so that the most important employees of most teams have never even set foot on a field to play the game! They crunch the numbers and tell the owner who to go after based on formulas the fans know nothing about. Now, we have a further triumph of geekdom: video replays. We could see it coming: there are so many cameras at a game now that every scratch, bobble and umping mistake is magnified many times over. So why not use the technology to correct every mistake, the so-called common wisdom asks. Why not? Where will it end? Do we even need home plate umpires? Put sensors in the home plate and call the game electronically. Likewise sensors in every base would tell you who got there first. Do away with all the umps. No more arguments. No more Lou Pinellas, Billy Martins and Earl Weavers kicking dirt and throwing bases. Just put a guy in a suit, dark glasses and an ipad in the dugout and let him run things electronically. You see where this is going. Baseball is a human game. Errors, mistakes, blown saves, hbp's, walks, outs, foul balls, chewing tobacco and crotch scratching are part of the game. And so are the calls the umps make on the field. Was the call right or did he blow it? That's part of the game to be debated long after the game is over. Well, now we will know for sure. We can reverse a call and make it come out right. Except when an infield fly rule is called. I guess we could use sensors for that too.