Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Upon Further Review
2005-10-14 06:00
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The ball probably never hit the dirt. But did you foresee this great of an uproar? The sports talk radio stations were still on the subject this morning, entirely ignoring the NLCS, playing the Jon Miller, A.J. Pierzynski, and Geoff Blum soundbites over...and over...and over again. Some national writers are practically foaming at the mouth. Was it a bad call? Yeah, it was a bad call. Was it the umpire's responsibility to indicate more clearly to Josh Paul that he considered the ball still in play? Yes. But let's not get carried away here.

Specifically, I mean instant replay, which Mike Greenberg went as far to suggest was inevitable for baseball after this play on his show this morning. Can I just say one thing? No. Football has instant replay and yet seemingly every three weeks there is a blatantly bad call everyone gets all up in arms about. It would rock the very heart of baseball's fragile, timeless soul were the umpires to call timeouts to go peer into one of those silly-looking peepshow machines. QuesTec was one thing -- that was an effort on the part of baseball to get the traditional rules called as written, not to throw out tradition altogether. No one was waving their arms from the pressbox to indicate calls overruled.

Instant replay undermines authority. Football referees become lazy and rely on their machines, which due to the inefficiency of their system (and the incompetence of many head coaches) leads to two or three wrong calls standing per game. One thing that has been made clear in the Eddings uproar is that baseball has surprisingly few famous officiating gaffes compared to the NFL or NBA. I can remember entire NBA playoff series where the big story was the quality or lack thereof of the referees (notably Sacramento-L.A. in the Western Conference Finals a few years back). Rob Neyer wrote a good column on this history but you'll need ESPN Insider to read it.

One thing I think people are losing sight of is that these things balance out. Before the ninth inning of the game the other night, the Fox broadcasters themselves were commenting on how the Angels had been seemingly on the winning side of all the close calls so far in the series. I've talked to a few people, fans of both teams and impartial observers, who say it was much the same in the Yankees series. Well, it boomeranged. Perhaps unfairly so, but let's allow the rest of the series to play out before we write the history books, okay now?

A quick note on our favorite team, whom -- don't worry -- we haven't forgotten: Clint Barmes and Garrett Atkins appear on Yahoo! Sports 2005 Fantasy All-Rookie Team. After the World Series, Rockies fans, we're going to go down the entire 40-man roster and see whether Colorado is going to get to .500 next year. Hey, if the Brewers can do it, why not us?

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