There are only so many times you can fire up the old blog machine to outline yet again, in painstaking detail, how the prevalence of video replay sucks the life out of professional sports. Every grueling application of replay technology that diminishes the action on the field and leaves nobody satisfied is another opportunity to bat around the same old criticisms, and at the end of that process everyone is just as grumpy as they were before while nothing really changes. So allow me to suggest a different approach: accelerationism.
During last night’s game between the Phillies and Braves, sports fans were treated to one of the more egregious failures of video replay in recent memory. In the top of the ninth inning, with the score tied at six, Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm tagged up on a shallow fly ball to left field and made a dash for home. The play at the plate was extremely close, and Bohm was called safe, scoring what would prove to be the game-winning run. And then, as the play was being subjected to replay review, it became apparent that Bohm’s foot never actually touched home plate.
And yet, these slow-motion, high-definition replays of Bohm’s foot sliding over and around the plate weren’t enough to convince the umpire in the replay booth that the call should be overturned. And so we ended up with one of the worst possible results video replay can grant us: a game being delayed for what feels like an eternity in service of the idea that all calls must must be right, and that their rightness can be revealed through careful analysis of every last pixel of video and scrap of dirt, only to end up with a clearly wrong call being upheld.
To which I say: Good! All of the meticulously thought-out criticisms of video replay have done dick to prevent the practice from becoming more and more prevalent in major sports leagues, so let’s instead spend our time rooting for and celebrating disasters such as this one. We should be cheering every time video replay fails this spectacularly and publicly, if only because it brings us one step closer to a reality in which everyone is just so goddamned sick of replay that they decide the hassle of it isn’t worth getting a few more calls correct every year. We need more failure, not less. We need Buster Olney hopping mad on Twitter. We need more players to end up in the same place Travis d’Arnaud is:
“It makes me not even want [replay] anymore,” d’Arnaud said. “It just slows the game down. To me, they got it wrong. I’d just rather not have it and get the game going.”ESPN
This is the way. Everyone deciding that sports are better off with blown calls than they are with long delays that ultimately may not even overturn those blown calls is the only way we’ll get out of this mess. So let us salute whichever MLB umpire watched a replay of Bohm’s slide over and over again and before throwing up his hands and saying, “Uhhhh, I dunno? Safe?”