There I was. Engulfed in the world’s most comfortable couch and accompanied by an ice cold beer. Or two. Or three. Or six. Regardless, the hops had begun to blur my vision but not enough to not see Boston Red Sox Manager, John Farrell, argue with the umpires over an overturned call. An overturned call that came, as a result, of Major League Baseball’s new instant replay system. Farrell must have said something offensive because he was thrown out of the game. Maybe he said a ‘your Mamma’ joke to one of the umps? Maybe he spoiled that week’s episode of Game of Thrones? I mean, they are umps. They probably don’t have the time to stay up-to-date with their TV shows.
Or maybe he just said what the umps—and everyone in Bud Selig’s front office—have already been hearing since the start of the season: that the instant replay system is flawed; that it is ruining the game; that it doesn’t work. Farrell said all this and more in his postgame interview. To quote the Red Sox Manager,
“it’s hard to have faith in the system.”
To begin, let me point out what we all know: baseball is suffering an identity crisis. But not any identity crisis. They’re dealing with a reality where baseball is no longer America’s pastime. In an age where technology and constant gratification—we expect future generations who receive texts in seconds to enjoy a 3-hour long game?—dominate everything, baseball is not only seen as behind-the-times, but archaic. It’s old. It’s boring. It’s out-of-date.
So, what does baseball do? It does the logical thing. It decides to ‘get with the times,’ and proposes a system that is used in most sports: instant replay. Not to make the game better but to make the game compatible with a new generation of fans and viewers. And the correct way to respond to this change, by those who participate in it, is to accept it. It is, after all, the sport you love. And, for the players and managers and front office officials, your career. You’re paid to do this. This is your livelihood.
Instead, it is thrown to the waste side. Treated like a disease that should be feared. John Farrell is just echoing the sentiment that everyone who has been in the game for as long as he has is feeling.
But perhaps Farrell—and everyone else—should put things in perspective. That change is not easy nor welcomed. That it takes time and work and work and acceptance. After all, it wasn’t long ago that baseball wouldn’t dare dream of an African American player gracing the diamond. When Jackie Robinson stepped onto the field, I’m sure there were many a manager and player and general manager who viewed it with disdain. But time passed and so did opinions. And baseball has done it time and time again. It, like all sports and things, changes. And for the better. There was, after all, a time in baseball when pitchers pitched close to 400 innings and threw nearly 40 complete games in a season.* Nowadays, something like that is unfathomable. So will be the time that baseball almost lost America’s favor. And winning that back started with instant replay.
*Cy Young did it in 1902 at the age of 35. The season that probably authored the award named after him.
Post by Julian Clark
Julian Clark is a comedy actor and writer who has performed regularly with Second City, iO West and UCB. He has toured to festivals throughout the country but calls Los Angeles his home. Follow his twitter if you’re bored – @julianis4lovers