Michael Street’s Musings

I’ve been dying to write an entry here at EJSIC for a few weeks now, but learning how to file frivolous lawsuits law school is extremely time-consuming. Anyway, here are some things floating around in my subconscious.

1. MLB Instant Replay – I’ve been against instant replay for a while now. I defended the “human element” in the summer when Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game thanks to umpire error (I now feel like an idiot for that). The playoffs have only shown us more problems, unfortunately. The Division Series in each league was dominated by questionable and costly umpire calls.

The LCS has not fared much better. Hell, the Yankees can basically determine when they are hit by a pitch and when they are not. It’s not going away, so it’s time for MLB to do what it does best: correct the problem after it has become a problem.

I still do not believe instant replay needs to be involved with every close play. Umpires have been making calls on bang-bang plays for nearly 150 years. There’s no need to review every single call.

How many umps does it take to screw up a call?

Instead, MLB should implement a rule stating: on every play which involves a significant scoring opportunity, instant replay is a viable option for determining the correct call.

I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell does ‘significant opportunity’ mean?” And that’s a great question. It means: a play in which a run may score (depending on the call), a run does score, or the potential to score runs is set up.

And all of those possibilities make it seem like a lot, but it would also be limited. There should never be an opportunity to replay a stolen base attempt (Buster Posey in the NLDS), a check swing or called / uncalled strike (Michael Young ALDS), or any play that is considered “routine” in the umpire’s job.

This rule leaves the ump’s with some discretion. If they need help, then they should be free to consult the technology.

If I haven’t converted you yet (which is a fair stance), I’ll be discussing this topic in a later (perhaps as long as a month from now) entry. It’s time to move on, though.

2. The NFL’s crackdown on head-hunting – It’s about time, honestly. It’s also important to point out that ESPN’s Mark Schlereth correctly called the NFL hypocritical this week on SportsCenter when he blasted the organization for promoting the violence of the game for years until now.

He’s right, but the NFL’s right, too. The NFL sold this violence for years. And now they want to stop the players from pursuing the most-violent hits. Their stance fits the very definition of a hypocrite. Yet, the NFL is 100% correct on the issue.

Get used to this image about 15 times a game now.

And the reason they’re correct is that they are being proactive, something my beloved baseball knows nothing about. It’s my opinion that a player will die on the field in an NFL game sometime in the future. The game is too violent, at times, for it to not happen.

But when that moment does occur, the NFL will be ready. They’re laying the groundwork for the arguments now. By fining and suspending players for vicious hits, they’ll be able to say one day, “Dear Congressional committee, we did everything in our power to limit the violence of the game. We fined players thousands of dollars for performing the hits we told them not to, and then suspended them without pay.”

That’s exactly what the NFL will be saying in front of a Congressional committee in X years. And, again, they’ll be correct. Then the Congress members and the NFL’s executives will all share a laugh about it at a dinner later that night. But whatever happens behind the scenes, the NFL will protect itself.

3. Marijuana soda, a liquid high – Dixie Elixirs (based in Colorado, the long last sister of the Confederacy) manufactures a soda from medical marijuana that gives the user a high while drinking. And better yet, it comes seven great flavors: lemonade, sweet tea, pink lemonade, strawberry, orange, grape, and root beer.

It doesn’t sound too appeasing to me, but if you want to try some, hit up their website.

4. The Wayne Rooney weirdness – English footballer Wayne Rooney has had a tough time as of late. He stunk it up in South Africa this past summer, he’s played horribly for Manchester United this season, his injured ankle has yet to fully heal, and the British media busted him for soliciting a prostitute (something he’s done before, but vowed to have stopped). Oh yeah, his wife’s prego with their child which factored into the media and public backlash.

How many prostitutes can 350,000 GBP a week buy?

And in the midst of all that, his club, Man U, is battling bankruptcy problems which prompted the 24 year old England star to publicly declare that he would be leaving the club at the expiration of his contract (end of 2012 season). Media members immediately speculated that he could be out of Manchester during the January transfer period with the possible destinations being cross-town rivals Manchester City, London dwellers Chelsea, or Spanish giants Real Madrid.

All of that speculation went to waste when Rooney, out of nowhere, signed a new 5 year deal with United Friday morning. So he’s good and recommitted to the club, according to club officials. With his new deal, I bet he can find a few higher end prostitutes to keep him satisfied while his wife deals with that whole pregnancy thing.

RE: The perfect game that wasn’t

As the resident baseball blogger here at EJSIC, I feel it is my duty to give my thoughts about Armando Galarraga and the perfect game that was robbed from him by first base umpire Jim Joyce.

Within 30 minutes of the blown call, I read 3 different articles on various sports websites shouting for instant replay. That was the easy way out. It was easy to climb to the top of Comerica Park and scream, “Instant replay!” until your lungs burned. It would have made everything better.

Armando Galarraga

Honestly, I feel for Galarraga. It sucks to lose what would have been the 21st perfect game in Major League history. And it sucks even worse to lose it with 1 out to go by the blown call of an umpire; an umpire, who by all accounts, is one of better ones. Within those 30 minutes immediately following the call, I watched two former players on MLB Network (most notably Harold Reynolds) and Detroit manager Jim Leyland talk about Jim Joyce’s credentials.

But here we are, 15 hours later, talking about the biggest folly in his career. He blew a perfect game, and he admitted it afterward. He even apologized to Galarraga, face to face after the game. It sucks for all parties involved. Galarraga was robbed of a career-defining event, one of the rarest feats in all of baseball. And now Joyce will be haunted for the rest of his life. He will be ridiculed in articles and on message boards. Hell, a firejimjoyce.com website was up in no time.

But all of that aside, the bigger issue, if there is one, is whether or not MLB should increase the use of instant replay in the game. I admit, I’m very torn on the issue. Baseball is a game I grew up playing and loving with every ounce of my body. I still love it, and I long to play it again.

I’m not a complete traditionalist. I do advocate some change within the game. I was fine with the addition of instant replay for home runs. But in deciding what I want Bud Selig to do, I can only come up with what I don’t want him to do.

I don’t want umpires going under the hood a la the NFL. It would be too time-consuming. It would too over-the-top. The human element, as Leyland pointed out in his post-game press conference, has always been a part of baseball. To lose that would be devastating.

I also don’t want balls and strikes reviewed. That’s too much and it completely removes the role of the umpire. It also removes the pitcher vs. hitter battle that makes baseball unique. In essence, it would ruin baseball.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com wrote one of those under-30-minute articles last night screaming for instant replay. His solution to the problem is similar to the NFL in that each manager would get one and only one challenge for game.

It’s a good solution, but it is more flawed than Mr. Stark will admit. His reasoning is that no manager would be willing to waste it on some rather meaningless play early in the game when a bigger play could occur later. And this is where I find fault with his solution.

Base-stealing attempts in the second inning can be just as important as a blown call by a base umpire in the seventh inning. They are all in important. Baseball is a closely-played game.

If Jim Leyland had a challenge such as Jayson Stark would like, how do we know he wouldn’t have used it earlier in the game? Stark admits as much, but then he says, “I doubt it.” How can we doubt it?

Leyland had no idea Galarraga would be going for history later. What if there was a close call in the fifth inning? In the fifth inning last night, Detroit was only up 1-0, hardly a score to make a manager feel comfortable.

What if a bang-bang played occurred in that inning that may have kept a runner from scoring position? Leyland, sensing a need for runs, might have thrown the challenge. There’s no guarantee he keeps it for the 9th inning.

And if he had used the challenge earlier under Stark’s scenario, what would he be writing about after the 9th inning now? Managers need two challenges?

There’s no perfect fix for this situation. Baseball has this uniqueness that needs to be preserved. But it also has an obligation to keep up with the new technology that may or may not enhance the game. It’s a catch-22, a slippery slope, etc. Baseball can stand back and remain idle at the price of, perhaps, looking dumb. Or it can jump forward and try to fix any future occurrences now.

Whatever Bud Selig decides, it won’t be the absolute right answer. It won’t even come close. Baseball is a sport that thrives off of the could-have-been. It lives through the intricacies of the play and the stat. Despite the sudden outburst for instant replay, it will live on. It will weather the storm.