1. Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    why robots should be allowed into major league baseball 

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    one of the best parts of aging is being able to watch, first hand, as human improve on life by correcting the ills of previous ages

    my mother, for example, grew up in the segregated South where she was forced to sit in the back of the movie theatre because of her skin color, drink from the “Colored” water fountains, and suffer far more serious outrages that today would never be tolerated.

    likewise teens today can’t even imagine a world without cell phones, the Internet, pausing live tv, a black president, or cars that park themselves.

    one day my kids will say “daddy please tell us about olden times when marijuana was illegal, people put gasoline in cars, and umpires were allowed to get the calls wrong in baseball!”

    and i will clap my hands twice and a Tupac hologram will materialize and explain that during the Foolish Pride Era of baseball, umpires got most of the calls correct, but embarrassingly goofed on some of the easist

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    and most historically important plays. and despite having the technology to refer to to correct the error,

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    just shrugged it off to “the human element” as if robbing someone of their perfect game was in any way acceptable.

    yesterday Joe Nathan racked up his 300th save on a low-and-away curveball in the 9th inning with 2 outs

    that would have walked the batter, bringing up a dangerous hitter with men on first and second, behind by just one run.

    “Did they call it strike three? You have to be kidding me!” the Tampa Bay announcer screamed, “that is absolutely horrible!”

    some argue that if computer technology or cameras or robots are able to do things like call the balls and strikes

    or OMG outs, it will be too time-consuming and add to the 3-hour-plus ball games.

    but technology is so good nowadays that graphics appear on viewers’ “second screen” or on the “instant replay”

    before the pitcher can even get the ball back from the catcher.

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    the only thing slowing up the process is the human element who called the ball a strike in the first place.

    also, who are we kidding: even if baseball games turn into 3 1/2 hour epics, so what?

    sports fans really need that extra half hour back in their lives so they can return to their garages where they find the cure for cancer?

    we have built these ginormous entertainment complexes around our ball parks so that Joe Sixpack can continue his day-long drink fest with his friends. sure we have improved the lifestyle so that instead of having to sit on a tail gate and swig cans of bud from a cooler, the sports fan can stroll into a nearby ESPN Sports Zone for some mixed drinks and replays on any of the dozens of flat screen tvs

    AND YELL ABOUT HOW THE UMP BLEW THE CALL THAT PREMATURELY ENDED THE REALLY GOOD GAME THEY ALL SPENT TOP DOLLAR TO SEE.

    those are not the conversations we want to have any more.

    we want to talk about the actual game.

    infield fly

    not how the ump called this an Infield Fly.

    last night during the NCAA Finals the refs swallowed their whistles for the most part and just let the youngsters slap each other under the board and struggle to earn every rebound or put-back.

    it was obvious that they didn’t want their calls to determine who would be the national champs. honorable, but gutless.

    but when you do that, you inevitably blow your whistle on things that are not fouls, like this amazing block:

    block

    basketball is harder to officiate than baseball, though, so i will give them a break: however the NBA often goes to the courtside flatscreen to replay certain plays like last minute shots and three pointers.

    baseball’s umpires, however, apparently have a stronger union.which, unfortunately, is doing a disservice to its membership when it refuses to let the technology aid them.

    if I was commissioner of baseball heres what id do. i’d say strike all you want whiners, we’re gonna have replay in baseball for one season for these things:

    – home runs being fair, foul, or not being home runs at all

    – plays that end innings

    – plays that break or make records

    – balks

    if this tacks on an extra 20 minutes to baseball games who cares. doesnt MLB want fans in the stadiums for as long as they can have them? don’t tv advertisers want this valuable programming on the air for as long as possible?

    aren’t the record books already filled with enough asterisks already?

    what is the rush to end the game and why are we dragging our feet in regards to accuracy?

    i, for one, would welcome our new robot umpires.

    try it in the AL first if you’re skittish.