By adopting replay, Major League Baseball has found a way to make the game even slower. | AP
Updated: May 3, 2014 4:19PM
Three things have ruined life in America in the 21st century:
1. Starbucks and smartphones.
2. Johnny Carson leaving late night in 1992.
3. Replay as an officiating tool.
(Do you know how many times I have pledged never to write another replay column? I have recurring nightmares about writing replay columns that I can’t finish.)
For most of my adult life, I have been right about replay as an officiating tool. But as I have turned blue in the face — and gray in the head — repeating my arguments, the replay savants simply liken me to an old man on his front porch shouting to get those kids off his lawn.
Except I’ve been screaming since I was a young man, and, well, the games now are ruined forever.
The NFL got the video ball rolling on this in 1986. Now, 28 years later, almost everyone else is on board. The latest dominoes to fall: college basketball, where almost every March Madness game ended with three officials huddled around a replay monitor, and baseball, where the slowest game between two oceans decided to slow itself down a little more.
In protest of this unstoppable Sports Nation trend, I’ve considered reversing 200-plus years of American migration by returning to the British Empire, but I fear cricket might be the next inexorable replay victim.
The replay geeks love to cite several mantras, which Couch Slouch briefly will deconstruct here:
◆ We have to get the call right. Actually, we don’t. So many times off the field we don’t get the call right — bad fashion choices at the Academy Awards, Subway deciding to make a ‘‘flatizza,’’ the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice in 1991 — and life goes on. Plus, even with the improved video technology and added scrutiny, we still don’t get the call right on the field on many occasions.
◆ We’ll only change the call with ‘‘conclusive evidence.’’ Actually, they’ll change the call any damn well time they please. If I had a quarter for every time they overturned a call in which I’ve told myself, ‘‘They absolutely positively can’t change this one; it’s impossible to see anything definitively,’’ I’d be able to feed every parking meter from here to Poughkeepsie from now until Ed Hochuli freezes over.
◆ The replay system is designed to prevent egregious, game-changing bad calls. Actually, they’re looking at the spotting of the ball in the first quarter, tag plays on attempted steals in the fourth inning and whether a shooter’s foot was behind the three-point line in any part of the game.
Here’s a novel concept: Play the games, make the calls and move on.
This worked really, really well for a really, really long time. These days, the overriding focus at the game is the officiating. If you’re watching the games for the officiating, you’re not watching the games anymore.
In addition, the repeated delays interrupt the flow of the action and suck away all the drama. Replay just upsets the balance of life, like a sabermetrician at a strip club.
With replay, for all I know, Brown v. Board of Education gets overturned rather than Plessy v. Ferguson.
With replay, there’s no Columbus Day. Upon further review, officials would’ve seen throngs of Native Americans greeting the Italian explorer and his three ships upon his ‘‘discovery’’ of the New World.
With replay, God probably doesn’t create heaven and earth, the sea and all that’s in them in less than a week. On the seventh day, he wouldn’t have rested; he’d be warding off legal challenges and environmental-impact studies about his placement of the Brazilian rainforest.
It’s too late for me, but I want my children’s children to enjoy a replay-free future. As for the kids today, get off my lawn!
Ask The Slouch
Q. With college football players attempting to unionize, are you worried that the next group to try this will be your ex-wives? (Dan Neukam, Las Vegas)A.
Actually, my first ex-spouse is president and treasurer of the Norman Chad Former Wives Guild, South Florida chapter.
Q. What exactly is pine tar? (Anthony Carr, Carmel, Ind.)A.
I’m not sure, but I suspected my friend Victor Littman of using it at his 1971 bar mitzvah.
Q. Why doesn’t MLS imitate our other pro leagues and play a couple of regular-season games overseas to try to raise the global profile of its sport? (William Murray, Chicago)A.
Pay the man, Shirley.
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