Why Would You Want To Be Wrong?

These days, unless you’re CIA undercover Ops, it’s nearly impossible to go “off the grid.”

I know not everyone has a smart phone, but it’s getting more and more difficult NOT to have one. On that mobile device you’ve got everything tethering you to all of humanity. The practically archaic telephone feature (remember dial tones?), the quintessential form of instant communication these days, text, as well as email, and web getting you on Facebook and Twitter. Those are the basics, not for everyone, but for many.

The days of avoiding people are long gone.

In the early 2000s, “oh…I didn’t get your call,” was a surefire way to dodge someone. For most part, you could put that impending unpleasant conversation on ice for some hours or even days.

“I didn’t have my phone” or “I had my phone off” used to come in handy, but I know few who are completely disconnected for a full eight nine or ten hour American work day anymore. Are you like me in taking a glance at my device if I wake for a few minutes in the middle of the night? That’s how I saw the Nationals didn’t win Game 5 of the NLDS. Yea, I went to bed after 6-0, and Harper was halfway to a playoff cycle.

We’re even a few years, which is like ten in the digital age, removed from calls not going through or being dropped. It’s hard to blame the phone companies these days. Think, when’s the last time you saw a “can you hear me now?” commercial from Verizon? 

These days, even if I hit decline on my iPhone, that person KNOWS I’m avoiding them for one reason or another. Then they can follow up with a text (on iPhones we know who reads what and when), an email or slap something on my Facebook wall. Somehow they’ll get their point across to me. It’s unavoidable.

Just like your significant other always being able to track you down, unless you’re that CIA operative, the topic of instant replay is always hounding Major League Baseball. It’ not the elephant in the room. It’s the San Diego Zoo, without cages.

It’s hardly about purity, tradition or the human element anymore. More than a decade in to the 21st century, the only places I think those can be welcomed and admired are in art and music. Two places where there is no right or wrong. Though Gangnam Style isn’t close to right, at all.

MLB’s only argument against all out* instant replay is even a feeble one. It’ll slow the game down, we hear. Well, while some appreciate the moderate – and that may be being kind – pace of the game, that’s probably not going to be tolerated by young fans, who know nothing but the digital age that’s fueling their ADD. Some decades long fans may be put off by getting calls right instant replay, but the kids, teens and adults may have their lifelong fandom cemented by a game that’s trying to do things in a way that appeals to them.

Also, if MLB wanted a faster pace to it’s game, then it would regularly enforce rule 8.04, the 12 second rule. Batters frequently stepping out to adjust all sorts of equipment strictly as a ritual or superstition? Yep, we’ll penalize that as well. Let me watch a game and I’ll point out a half dozen more ways to speed the game up.

I greatly honor and appreciate the glorious history of the game, but I’m sorry baseball can’t flourish and grow in today’s world by moving at a snail’s pace AND allowing obvious (which they are on my TV thanks to replay!) calls to be missed.

You see that asterisk up there? It’s for this note.

Without figuring out the ‘how,’ (challenge flags are intriguing though) I’m a proponent of all encompassing replay in baseball, with the ample exception of balls and strikes. The traditionalist in me wants the human element judging the strike zone. Safe, out. Catch, no catch. Fair, foul and more are like running red lights to me. There’s no grey area, so expect sirens and a ticket.

On the other hand, the strike zone, as long as it’s a consistent one, is like a yellow light. You’ve got some latitude for an argument. At least you may when you’re pulled over, and maybe even a little with the umpire.  

If that particular night’s umpire had a tiny strike zone, hitters and pitchers hope it’s at least established early enough in the game so they can adjust. Complain all you want, but it’s been that way all game, and your guys are getting it too.

It’s different with plays in the field.

An umpire might even alert the players to what is and isn’t a strike that night. I don’t think a man in blue has ever said, “listen up men, if the batter/runner is within six inches to a foot of first on a play at the bag, he’s got the base tonight.” Obviously, there’s a ridiculously accepted exception to this with DP’s around second, and yes some SS and 2B miss the bag more conspicuously than others and still get the out.

The strike zone has been massaged throughout baseball’s history. It’s each umpire’s opportunity to put their own individual interpretation on the game, and I’m just fine with that. But an out is an out, and always has been an out. For over a century.

Besides, it only takes a little common sense to realize scrutinizing EVERY pitch in a game WOULD turn an American pastime (for some), into an American marathon. We’ll be conservative and say there’s 250 a pitches a game. That’s a lot of reviews, at least opposed to the amount of plays in the field that could potentially call on a review.

And lastly, who doesn’t want to be right?! You might find this hard to believe, but I don’t know everything. Sometimes I’ve got to enlist Google for some help! If I need a search engine, the umpires can accept a little technology.

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