I fancy myself a sports fan. I root for my team even if it takes them seven weeks to get their first win, I defend my San Antonio Spurs no matter what the opposition, I believe I am the best coach in any major sport, and I yell at the television (ask my girlfriend).
As a sports fan, I am honored to do in this column what any true sports fan does anytime they watch their team, I am going to complain about officials.
This particular complaint is addressed to Major League Baseball. Many typical sports fans will tell you baseball is no longer Americas pastime. In fact it seems like baseball is slowly becoming the third most popular sport in America.
It’s easy to see why baseball is losing credibility: steroids. It’s difficult to watch a sport in which so many superstars are using or have used performance-enhancing drugs.
With baseball sliding out of the public eye, this post-season had to be one of the best of all time. It had to bring old and new fans back and had to re-establish baseball as America’s pastime.
It tried; the New York Yankees are where their wallet says they should be, but that has not been the story. What has? The same thing all of us fans love to lose our heads about: blown calls.
In Game Four of the ALCS, the Angles catcher tagged two Yankees standing off the bag at third, but the umpire only called one out despite the photo evidence.
In the top of the 11th of Game 2 of the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium, Twins catcher Joe Mauer hit what appeared to be a leadoff double down the left-field line. But umpire Phil Cuzzi called it foul.
In the 12th inning of the Tigers-Twins one-game playoff for the AL Central title, Detroit’s Brandon Inge was grazed on the uniform by a pitch with the bases loaded, which would have forced in a run.
But the umpire missed the call, Inge grounded into a fielder’s choice and the Twins went on to win in the bottom of the inning.
Against the Yankees in game four of the World Series, the Phillies’ Ryan Howard was called safe at home in the bottom of the fourth inning, tying the score at twobut he never touched the plate.
Tired of it yet?
What is even scarier is that some of the calls affected the outcome of games. This is quite simply inexcusable especially given that we have the gift of replay.
Just like college football, just like the National Basketball Association, just like the National Football League, we’re sitting on our couch with chips, wings, and beer, and we all have instant replay.
For some reason the people who matter in the league do not. I understand the MLB wanting not to slow down the game, wanting to keep tradition. I am a huge fan of tradition and prestige.
But I am a bigger fan of getting the game right.
If it takes television crews about five seconds to run back the replay, why can’t we have an official watch the same replay and tell the umpire the right call?
With all the technology available to the average fan, it’s time that we use it to make the correct calls on the diamond. Baseball needs to play catch-up with the implementation of instant replay. Maybe next year we can talk about a great postseason, and maybe just maybe the MLB will give us a little less to complain about.