Shedding Light on Baseball's Dirty Secret
Dear Mr. Selig,
Good morning, Mr. Commissioner, it's me, the voice of all baseball fans! I've been whispering in your ear for some time but you have managed to tune me out more often than not. That ends now: the rumble you hear is the dissatisfaction with the status quo that you have it in your power to change.
No, Mr. Selig, this isn't about the "Steroids Era" that you expertly maneuvered the game through. It's not about baseball's handling of the human traveling circus act that is Jose Canseco. This isn't about Griffey asleep during the sixth inning or even Leyland lighting up in the dugout.
This is bigger.
It's about the weird, obsessive love affair the game you lead has with human error.
If ever there has been a more dysfunctional relationship in sports, I don't know about it. Chipper Jones' illegitimate child, nah. The McCourts' messy divorce, fergettaboughtit. The number one worst pairing in all of sport is baseball and human-error.
Sure, it's cute when the ump misses a call at the plate when a team is already losing 9 to 1. Fans even managed to look the other way in the playoffs last year when Joe Mauer hit a ball down the line that was fair by three feet but somehow, inexplicably, was called foul by the ump who was standing a few yards away.
However, it's not cute when perfection is on the line, Mr. Selig.
I was at dinner celebrating my son's 12th birthday when I first began to realize it was going to be a rough day for you. I managed to get a pretty great seat right next to the birthday boy and with a nice view of the Angels game. I glanced over when I could, excited to watch the Angels beating the Royals and inching closer to .500.
Pretty good day filled with family, free dessert, birthday-song-singing and baseball. I knew something was up, however, when the Angels game kept showing Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers jumping up and down on what looked to be a close play at first.
Wait, the Angels are playing the Royals, not the Tigers. . . . What's going on?
Well, we all know now, don't we, Mr. Selig? Your game is busted. The weirdness that is baseball and human-error were caught in a very uncompromising position and it's flat-out embarrassing.
It's one thing to cost a team a run in a blowout game. It's another to cost a team a double in a playoff game that may or may not have resulted in momentum for one team over another. When you are one out away from doing something only 20 others have done in the greater than 100-year history of the game, its another thing altogether.
Mr. Selig: WTF?
This has to stop and stop NOW. This is stupid, it's unimaginable, it's incomprehensible . . . it's, in your power to stop.
Which leads me to the reason I'm writing today. I have your to-do list ready and wanted to share it with you. It's simple, really . . .
1. Fix yesterday's game, and
2. Make sure it never happens again.
Now, don't worry, it's not as hard as you might think. Fixing yesterday's game is the easy part. The ump admitted he blew the call, everyone who has seen the replay knows he blew the call; the call was blown. Admit it officially and fly out to Detroit to deliver a plaque or something to Armando Galarraga with your most sincere apologies.
Sure, he will never get to jump up and down, surrounded by his teammates as his home-crowd cheers. That didn't work out all that well for Kendry Morales though, did it? You are doing the kid a favor, in more ways than one.
Then, with yesterday's blunder fixed, move on to 2. Making sure this never happens again.
Our very own Mike Scioscia said this about instant replay in baseball:
"I think there are too many plays that are close that could possibly be up for review, and I think it would be dysfunctional if you put it in there any more than it is. On a limited basis, it has value. I'd like it to be expanded with things like trapped balls and ground-rule doubles, but I don't think it would work on the bases."
With all due respect to one of the most respected managers in all of baseball, I disagree. So should you, Mr. Selig. The answer is simple and you have to implement it today.
Each team gets one challenge. They can challenge anything they want: a trapped ball, a safe/out call, a fair/foul double . . . anything. If the manager sees what he thinks is an exceptionally egregious blunder on the diamond, he throws out the red flag. The umpires go to the replay and decide.
If the play is reversed, then all is well and the game continues. If, however, the replay confirms the umps' call, it will cost the challenging manager's team an out.
Yes, Mr. Selig, I know this might look like you are piggy-backing on the successful challenge rule in the NFL, but so what? It's the right thing to do, and if it were in place already then yesterday's blunder would have been nothing but a side note--not the tsunami of pitch-fork and torch-bearing fans frustrated with your game's ongoing dalliance with human-error.
It's time for a divorce, for the good of the game.