We've had a busy week around here and things were bound to fall through the cracks. So, I hope you don't mind if we take a spin in the Wayback Machine to Tuesday last so we can talk about your favorite doofus uncle, Bud Selig. Great, thanks.
On Monday evening Robinson Cano was booed mercilessly during the Home Run Derby because Kansas City fans were salty he did not choose cherub-rock-of-the-lineup Billy Butler. It started a whole stupid debate about the rules for booing players during charity events on the eve of meaningless (but-for-the-tiny-matter-of-World-Series-home-field-advantage) exhibition games. It was just about the dumbest thing anyone ever heard, and then Bud Selig opened his mouth. Bud felt bad for Cano and immediately hinted at a possible change in the rules of the charity event on the eve of the meaningless exhibition game. Selig was prompted by someone's question about the scary, scary New York fans who will be attending next year's All-Star Games festivities.
"It won't be any worse than it was [Monday] night," Selig said. "You can only boo so loud. But we'll think about [a change in the selection format]. Robbie Cano did his job. He picked the guys that he thought were the best. And that's what you're supposed to do."
The simple answer to this problem, and the possibility that Selig referred to, is creating a situation that allows for one participant to be a "hometown" All-Star. Next year, for instance, with the Mets hosting the All-Star Game, one participant would need to be David Wright or some other worthy Met.
In the same session with the Baseball Writer's Association of America, Selig also discussed instant replay during real, non-exhibition games.
"Everyone I talk to, starting with Joe [Torre], Tony [La Russa], managers ... nobody is anxious to expand replay anymore. That doesn't mean we won't continue to review it. Baseball is a game of pace, you can't compare it to anything else. We have to be careful how we proceed."
I don't think I need to tell you what a disaster umpiring has been of late. Of course, that's not necessarily an indictment of the individuals making the decisions on the field. We can all agree it is incredibly difficult to make some of these calls in real time; the millions of cameras with their slow motion replays on high definition televisions only make it harder. If only there were a way to take those millions of cameras with slow motion replays on high definition televisions and use them to baseball's advantage.
But I digress. The real issue that needs addressing is how to fix the booing at the Home Run Derby. Everyone I talk to, starting with Joe [My Barber] and Tony [From Belmont Ave.] ... actually, scratch that, they don't give a shit about the Home Run Derby rules. Robinson Cano—and Prince Fielder the year before him—being booed during some stupid event is so far off the radar of important things to discuss about baseball that even Buck Showalter is scratching his head. Yet there Bud is, discussing a rules change literally hours after an incident got people talking. To his credit, Selig did mention that this is not necessarily a new problem, we've dealt with it for two years in a row now, so clearly something must be done with all possible haste.
This is the state of Major League Baseball in 2012. Things that are more closely aligned with promoting capital-b Baseball, are decided quickly and who cares about consequences. But if you want to improve the quality—and more important, the reliability—of actual baseball games played, well, the commissioner's office turns into a meeting of the Ents.
Look, it's good to be deliberate, but this isn't thoroughness. This is just a basic human reaction to change. All these old guys like Torre, LaRussa and Selig himself are scared shitless that the robots will one day take over and where will their precious game be then? So, they feel compelled to safeguard the game from the nefarious creeping wires and cameras and wireless cameras that they think will ruin everything.
Progress, of course, is a good thing but instant replay won't fix everything. As we've seen in other sports, even with instant replay, calls are blown. But just like the expectations for umpires themselves, perfection is not a requirement but an aspiration. Using instant replay gets us closer, closer than umpires currently can take us to perfection.
As it stands now, however, it looks like we will be the only ones having this discussion, unless fans everywhere start mercilessly booing umpires every single night.
Image via Life