Baseball On My Brain

More thoughts on instant replay – is this my generation’s challenge?
August 30, 2008, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I don’t mean to make more of this than it is, but I was sitting here on Labor Day weekend, enjoying a nice weekend away from the city, while I was reading (and reviewing) Peter Morris’ But Didn’t We Have Fun?

The book chronicles baseball’s early years, from 1843-1870. Baseball went through tremendous change during those years, no different than an infant maturing into a toddler, child, and adolescent.

As professionalism entered the fray, sentiments toward the game changed, and even though the subject matter dealt with a time period over 130 years ago, the struggles of keeping true to baseball’s traditions versus embracing change are readily evident.

It got me to wondering – does every generation have to embrace some kind of change about the game? I was trying to think back over the timeline of baseball…the DH and free agency were the issues of the day in the early to mid 1970s – I’m sure some folks saw those as the end of the integrity of the game — would salaires ruin the financial structure? Or would pitchers not having to hit in one league signal that baseball has become a new game which had abandoned its roots in favor of increased offensive production, and thus more fans and more revenue?

Before that, you had the integration of baseball – Jackie Robinson playing his first game in 1947 meant that fans would have to embrace different colors on the baseball field for the first time. Would African-Americans ruin the game? I’m sure there were those that thought they would; as we have come to see they have made the game better by bringing everyone to the diamond and allowing those who are the most capable access to the game, whereas their skin tone would have excluded them prior.

One of my uncles – who is a much more casual fan of the game than I but nevertheless very insightful and observant, asked me if I thought that the records of pre-integration were as valid as the general populace makes them. I responded that no record is as valid as we make it — the doors to MLB are not wide open, despite having players from countries around the world in the current game. There are still more who have unrecognized talent that could come to the grand game.

Before integration, fans struggled with gambling in baseball — the Black Sox scandal being the issue that brought about much change and took baseball to the depths that it took Babe Ruth to bring it back from.

But back to instant replay — it should be no secret that I despise the idea. In fact, I’m thinking of writing a letter to Commissioner Bud Selig expressing my disgust. Nevertheless – as I step back and look at this without my own feelings involved, it got me to wondering – is this my generation’s challenge? Will this be the next significant chapter in baseball where one era ends and another begins?

If it is, as much as I don’t like it, I am somewhat excited to be a part of it. The idea is intriguing and engaging – and as I mentioned in an earlier post, it will be a interesting day when I get to tell future generations about baseball when umpires made the call without the help of a camera and video machine, and if they were wrong, they were wrong and it was right.


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