Friday, October 31, 2014

YOOUUU'RRREEE OUTTA HERE! How new video technology is ruining America's Pastime.

When I got to the gym late Tuesday night, I managed to catch the last half of the sixth game of the World Series.  I watched as San Fransisco shortstop, Brandon Crawford, threw a runner out at first in the bottom of the sixth inning.  There was no doubt as to whether or not the umpire made the right call, however, the out was then replayed in slow motion from three different angles.  First we saw the play from an angle behind the shortstop, then in slow motion from an angle looking down the first base line, and, for no apparent reason, an angle looking up from the ground at the play happening above it.  By the time the three minutes of unnecessary shots was over, I was bored with the game and ready to change the channel.

As well as slowing down an already slow-moving game, camera and special effects technology makes the work of an umpire much more difficult.  Editors are able to create a virtual strike zone on footage recorded from previous innings in order to analyze how the pitcher has been throwing the ball.  Though this is helpful in analyzing the pitches, it also points out any errors that the umpire has made to the viewers.  A pitch even a centimeter outside of the strike zone is easy to see with this animation.

I have been an umpire for my local Little League for the past five years, and it is a very stressful job.  You have to constantly be aware of the ball, the players, the coaches, and even the fans.  Sometimes, even though you are at least 20 years younger than most of the parents and coaches present, they will yell and scream at you if they don’t think you made the right call.  Imagine being an umpire in major league baseball.  These MLB players play baseball for a living.  They are depending on the umpire to always make the right call.   Millions of Americans are also relying on the umpire to ensure that their team will win.  This job is more stressful than playing out on the field, for if you make a bad call, there is a good chance that most of America will hate you.

This new technology makes the work of umpires much more difficult.  For now with slow motion cameras and an animated strike zone, we can see any errors that the umpires may make, no matter how small.  They are open to ridicule from a large number of people with little or no experience officiating, or even playing, the sport.  


The whole game of baseball is based upon errors.  When a pitcher throws a less than perfect pitch, the batter gets a ball.  When a batter swings and misses the ball, he gets a strike.  There is even an “Error” statistic which keeps track of how many times a player drops or misses a fielded ball.  These errors make the game of baseball thrilling and exciting.  Though we have created new technology to ensure that every play is called perfectly, that is not the point of baseball.  By creating this system where we can see everything that goes wrong, we make the umpires’ jobs more difficult and take away the excitement of the game.

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