I am a baseball purist. I believe in cracker jacks and 2 dollar beer. I believe in the infield fly rule and hustling a double into a triple. I believe in the human factor being a key and pivotal role in the game, and am against instant replay. But after seeing Armando Galarraga robbed of the 21st perfect game in baseball history by a miscall, I see now I must relent.
I am a baseball purist. I believe in cracker jacks and 2 dollar beer. I believe in the infield fly rule and hustling a double into a triple. I believe in the human factor being a key and pivotal role in the game, and am against instant replay. But after seeing Armando Galarraga robbed of the 21st perfect game in baseball history by a miscall, I see now I must relent.The pivotal call by umpire Jim Joyce was not a bad call, it was a miscall. The human factor held sway. The way it always has in baseball. It won’t be talked about, but the pressure got to him. Just like the players who are playing the field with 2 down in the bottom of the ninth; his heart was racing, his pulse was quickened, and the pressure got to him. There is no other earthly explanation how an umpire who is so heralded as a quality “blue” could blow that call. He has made that decision thousands of times. He has rounded the first baseman to get into position so as to get the best line of sight over and over, to the point of innate muscle memory and instinctual reaction. And that is what is most befuddling; it was an instinctual reaction at this point. Just as I know to put my index fingers over the F and J key respectively before typing on a keyboard.
And of course the “Newists” (the baseball fans who call me a curmudgeon who clings onto a bygone era) will site this as another example of why we need instant replay. And of course their point is a valid one. But this is nothing new, it is an argument as old as broadcasted games themselves. The difference this time is the historical significance involved. The “Newists” have been waiting for that bottom of the 9th, 7th game of the World Series scenario to elevate their argument, to site as their holy grail of validity.
Still, that is not what is going to make the difference this time.
Times they are a changing. I have to relent. And I accept this notion only due to my knowledge of the one man who can change the status quo, and surely will. For he has proven multiple times to cherish the history of the game only when it suits his purpose. And by purpose, I mean his pocket. Bud Selig, the worst commissioner the game has ever had.
The man has had no qualms during his tenure with adjusting the rules and culture of the game to suit his purpose. After his rigidity caused the strike of ’94, he turned a blind eye as the steroid culture enveloped the game. Forever changing it, and robbing us of the ability to compare the men of the dead ball and small ball era’s with the super human sluggers of today. He did so for no other reason than the fact that he knew the only way to get fans back in the stands was to allow the devil into heaven. Steroids saved Bud Selig’s career more than any juiced up slugger of our generation.
When the 2002 All-Star game ran long, with a tie score in the 11th inning, he sat in the owner’s box of his hometown stadium and made a call that many purists are still befuddled by. He called the game. He ended a baseball game, in a tie! This had happened before, but only due to rain delays that extended into the late evening of game day, where obviously you cannot have a make up day. We’re Americans! This is America’s game, right? Americans don’t do ties. There is a reason Soccer has not taken firm hold in this country. We are winners or losers. Either moniker is a better hat to wear than to share a draw. We are not the ilk who accept faux victory, to us and our sensibilities that is code for mutual defeat.
With that decision, Bud Selig usurped the written rules of professional baseball. With the power of Cesar casting judgment upon the gladiators. When the purists cried foul, rather than admit his infidelity to the ghosts and memory of players, owners, commissioners, and fans past; he chose to again bastardize the 100 plus years of history inherent in the game, and declare that the winner of the ensuing All-Star games league would have home field advantage in the World Series. A tactic no player, manager, or owner agrees with. The common consensus is that like every other sport, overall record should dictate advantage in the post season.
Oh Cesar, who will live and who will die? Oh Bud, will the Purist keep their game, or will the “Newist” take it over?
I know the answer already, the history of the game is exactly that. The game of baseball that we all grew up knowing, playing, and respecting is dead. The hero’s we idolized for their unique talent are dead and buried, and their talent can now be bought from a dealer for a moderate price
. The game has changed. For better or worse we can no longer compare the hero’s of old with the celebrities who play the game today. The long ball is king. The games are all played at night for better profit. Taking away the effects of summer heat, and midday sun. Our game is sterile.
America’s game has been bought and bartered. And now it awaits its final death nail. Like the hero’s of the game past, who are buried in the dirt. Like the real Yankee Stadium, paved over and turned into a parking lot like a Joni Mitchell tune. Baseball will become a bionic version of itself.
So congratulations to the “Newists”. They will surely win for their biggest advocate for Instant Replay as well as the littany of other changes to the hallowed game is the current commissioner. And although their cause is just, the game will never be the same. We have burnt the game to the ground and built something new. We wipe our backsides with the current record sheet, we inject talent and cheer stratospheric homer’s. We rip out the history and insert our apathy. This is our game now, our generation owns it. And those players, those stadiums, those ancient memories are dead and buried.
From henceforth, all records are not to be broken, they are to be set.