Tuesday, July 21, 2009
2009: The Year of the Bad Calls
This isn't the first year we've seen bad calls. This probably isn't the year with the worst calls. Really, there isn't any one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb as being a horrific mind blowing call (I'll take that back in a second).
But 2009 may go down as the year of the bad call in sports. I have no stats to back that up -- I just know that even my normal "sometimes they get it wrong" outlook is growing smaller and smaller by the day.
Last night, the Twins Michael Cuddyer was thrown out at the plate for what would have been a game-tying run. In a game that saw huge momentum swings and a 14-13 ending, most people will remember that the game ended on a blown call. Cuddyer was safe by a mile.
This comes during a year of whining about fouls, bad penalties, missed goals and the infamous Ed Hochuli incident. Aside from Hochuli, there really isn't anything going on that hasn't happened before.
The problem is more noticeable now because of technology. We've had instant replay on TV for a long time now, but now with have X-MO and a ton of different angles covering the entire field of play. We have HDTVs where everything comes in crystal clear at home. How can we expect three basketball refs to see everything when we need 20 cameras doing the same.
Now instant replay is in every major sport in one way or another. Before, bad calls were blown off because there wasn't any way in the rules to correct it besides huddling up and asking "what did you see?" Now it's everywhere so the athletes and fans can all see when a call is bad and wants it rectified.
This has always been the slippery slope that anti-replay people point to. Baseball finally allowed replay to review home run calls ... and we were all fine with that. However, when something like last night happened, we all want the umpires to check out the replay and get it right.
Referees have to realize this. Before, they could anticipate calls. If a guard was driving to the basket and a big man comes over the defend, the ref is usually going to blow the whistle no matter what. If the ball beats the man to the base (which in Cuddyer's case, it did), the umpire just calls him out. If a wide receiver and a defensive back get tangled, the ref usually tosses the flag.
That was all just accepted. But not anymore. I can sit at home and see the network's replays. I can use my DVR to rewind and slo-motion it myself to see if the call was good or bad. With HDTV, even the toughest angles look good.
So the question is how do you fix it? Hard to say. Believe it or not, these officials are the best in their business and most don't have a pre-existing agenda. They are given all sorts of tools to get better at their craft. However, there must be a way where replay can be used where it doesn't completely slow the game up or become the ultimate crutch. It must be there to right the wrongs.
Especially the really, really, really, really wrongs.
Brought to you by the Sportz Assassin at 12:01 PM