Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Six Wasted Minutes
Saturday's Cardinals-Royals game was a pretty good demonstration of the need for expanded instant replay in baseball. Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly caught a ball, threw to first baseman Allen Craig to get the runner on there (who hadn't tagged up) who then through to the second baseman to get the runner there (ditto).
Triple play, signalled the home plate umpire! The fuck it is, signalled the crew chief. The crew chief said Kelly trapped the ball, and only got the out at first. One out, and the runners advance. Ultimately, the Royals scored one run.
Cardinals manager Mike Metheney came out to argue, because he pretty much had to (And that's part of this bullshit). The umpires let him argue because they pretty much had to; even if he was making good points, they really don't have a useful mechanism for reversing those calls (if they do it just once, arguing will EXPLODE in the league).
So, fans watching in the stands and at home were treated to SIX MINUTES of Metheney and the umps arguing- without even being able to hear what they said!
And then, the final score? 10-7, Cardinals. SO THAT ONE RUN DIDN'T EVEN MATTER ARGHBARGHLEBALRGHARGHLE.
This is so ridiculously shitty for fans, I made a list of the ways.
1) It slows down the game. I don't always care for this argument- baseball's deliberate pace is something that makes it awesome- but six minutes is quite a bit of time to waste, especially when it won't actually affect the outcome of the game.
2) It's all Kabuki. When Matheney walks out of the dugout, he knows he's not going to change the umpire's mind. For the reasons stated about, he can't. There's something to the fact that it psyches up the players, but c'mon, they're professionals, they can psyche themselves up without mind games. Meanwhile, the umpires also know that Mike Matheney can't change their mind; but they let him rage anyway, because they know he's just doing it to psyche up his players and they're not going to change their mind, so they might as well let him have his say. It's all just an act, a routine, a dance with the steps laid out decades in advance.
3) It's boring. It's just old men arguing. We can't even hear them curse at each other. Definitely not why we tune in to a baseball game.
4) It clouds what really happened. It becomes such an issue that the fans and broadcasters for both teams just go to their corners, and refuse to accept the real answer if it conflicts with their teams' goals. And since there's no immediate review, everyone gets to stew like that all game. In this case, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina came out afterward and confirmed that Kelly did not catch the ball. But at that point...
5) IT DOESN'T MATTER.
6) NO, REALLY, IT DOESN'T MATTER. The Cardinals won 10-7, and even if they hadn't, there were a thousand other things that could have changed the course of the game. One play never decides a baseball game. When it looks like it does, it's just because none of the other plays actually amounted to anything. So why waste so much time on it?
7) Which piggy-backs off of 4 and 6, it makes the Manager look like he's doing something, when managers are all bullshit, at least once the game starts. Managers set the line up, and that's it. They make some calls on relief pitching, but the pitching coach and designated roles do most of the heavy lifting there. This is the one in-game thing that a Manager can be seen doing, and even here, he's not actually going to change any minds. And baseball really needs to get away from the "Cult of the Manager" anyway.
What's more, this is all oh-so-easy to fix. Instant replay. Clear-and-convincing standard to reverse the call on the field. If the manager keeps bitching after that, instant ejection, no letting him have his say. I'm not saying we'll always get the call right- the Fox Sports STL guys had tape, but the remained convinced that Kelly caught the ball, while Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said he trapped it. But at least we'll get AN answer faster and move on in a more entertaining way. Sure, it could take up to six minutes to review the tape, but at least during that time we'll be watching the replays and arguing about it (like we do in football and hockey), which is half the fun anyway. Just watching a bunch of old men argue is just denying us fans that pleasure.
And that, once again, is my big issue. We fans are having a worse game shoved in our faces when a superior one is easy enough to put together- and all in the name of tradition. And I don't know if I can sit through another six minutes.