Baseball, as I have known it my whole life, is dying.
Something new is being born, a monster; an incredibly powerful creature. I don’t hate it. It’s certainly a lot more dramatic. But man, things have changed in a hurry.
Take last night in Washington. It’s midnight. The game is more than four hours old and we’re in the 8th inning. I’m sitting at home fighting to stay awake. People are sleeping all throughout Nationals Park. The closer is inexplicably being asked to do way more than he’s ever done in his life to earn a save. And he’s on the verge of breaking.
Back-to-back two out hits. Runners on first and second. The tying run on second in a 9-8 game that has seen 23 hits, 2 errors, 14 pitchers and two challenges – one on the game’s first AB.
A 2-1 count on Trea Turner. The stadium buzzing. A quick pick throw to first from the catcher. Lobaton slides back in safely. Close play.
And then Major League Baseball’s soul was snuffed out. The one I knew anyway.
Joe Maddon successfully challenged. The call was overturned. The most dramatic moment was abruptly halted, and the Nationals were effectively eliminated, by the vexing combination of technology and what we’ll call, for lack of a better idea, “unseen forces”.
Because here’s the thing. I’m yet to see a replay where you can definitively see a tag pressed on Lobaton’s leg during that split second when his foot lifted off the bag. And even if you could, it shouldn’t matter!! It just makes you wonder what was said from replay HQ to the ump. It’s scary to think of the power that replay room holds.
Is this really the way the game is going to go?? We’re going to let games be decided by ever improving slow motion and high definition technologies instead of by players and umpires?
That’s really what it feels like. These challenges are absolute torture.
It’s hasn’t just been these playoffs. It’s been coming fast. While technology and the powers that be continue to alter the game incessantly, players themselves are becoming more and more machine-like. Baseball players have joined the ranks of super-athletes. Everybody throws 100. Home runs are being hit a record pace. That is not a coincidence.
The games featuring 1 power arm after the next are already starting to get old, too. Guy takes about a minute to get comfy on the mound, completes a zen breathing routine, sets for an extended hold, and throws a dart at 100 on the black. And it gets fouled off. Repeat this 4-10 times (depending on the quality of the guy’s secondary pitch).
Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a guy out there mixing it up from 70-90, throwing some junk. Or painting corners. The game today could use a little Greg Maddox; some Jimmy Key. The funny thing is, hitters today are so locked in on the fastball that an army of crafty lefties could probably tie them up in knots.
I was so disgusted with how that 8th inning ended last night that I turned the game off. Really don’t plan on watching any more either. If I had been a Nats fan at the game last night I would have asked for my money back. What a shame.
At a crossroads between man and machine, Major League Baseball seems headed towards a cold, steel world.