A GRIP ON SPORTS
Baseball is all about tradition. But even baseball has embraced the idea of instant replay to help officiate, albeit slowly and in a quite limited way. After what happened last night, however, maybe it's time for baseball to go back to a simpler time – or move forward. Read on.
• We're talking about a long drive in the Oakland A's 4-3 defeat at Cleveland last night. Adam Rosales hit what looked to be a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth, but the ball hit the railing above the fence and caromed back on the field. Fooled, the umpires called it a double. But that's not the end of things these days. Bob Melvin, the former Mariners manager who know is in charge in Oakland, came out and ask for a video replay. Crew chief Angel Hernandez complied. Five minutes later, during which the A's broadcast crew showed a blown-up version of the flight of the ball – it clearly hit about a foot above the yellow home run line – and declared it a dinger. So did the Cleveland fans, especially the ones nearest the railing where the ball hit. Everyone in the ballpark knew it was a home run – except the umpires. They returned to the field and declared it a double, telling the pool reporter afterward there wasn't conclusive evidence it hit above the yellow line. What, they never took geometry? Just by slowly watching the flight of the ball you can prove, mathematically, it hit above the yellow line. But it isn't necessary to pull out a calculator. Just watching it on the video on my computer screen it isn't hard to discern, conclusively, the ball hit above the line. So I have this vision of three umpires in a small room gathered around a 15-inch, black-and-white screen, adjusting the rabbit ears and maybe hitting the side of the Philco, trying to get the horizontal hold to come in. For good measure, one of them is cussing because the static is so bad. But really, they spent five minutes in the ninth inning trying to figure out something that should have been obvious in one or two minutes. There has to be a flaw in the system somewhere, either in the equipment or the delivery of the video to the folks that make the decision. If it's going to be this poorly done, the billion-dollar industry that is major league baseball has to abandon replay altogether or, surprise, surprise, invest a bit more money into the system and get it right.
• Don't forget, we are trying to do something nice for moms on Mother's Day. We want to honor them (and the way they have influenced our sporting life). Please take a few moments to sit down and write me an email concerning a memory you have of mom and her contributions to one of your sporting events or your sporting life. You can pass along your story to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll put them here on Mother's Day and some of them will also appear in the newspaper the same day. We have more than enough already, but if you have a great story you still want to share, the space on the Net is endless, so email me your thoughts today.
• WSU: The best of today's Washington State links has to do with a Cougar alum, Klay Thompson (pictured). The shooting guard had the best game of his NBA career last night, and the Golden State Warriors really needed it. How good was Thompson? Here's his line: 34 points, 14 rebounds (his first career double-double) and defense on Tony Parker that led to a 7-of-17 shooting night for the San Antonio star. It was the type of game only one guy really envisioned when Thompson came out of Santa Margarita High in Southern California. And that would be former WSU coach Tony Bennett. Now everyone is seeing it. … The ESPN.com Pac-12 blog has a post-spring power ranking (WSU is 11th) and the Mercury-News' Jon Wilner has a look at the conference's quarterback comfort levels. … The football postseason is still puzzling. … This is timely, considering the story above about the replay in Cleveland.
• EWU: Former Eastern athletic director Scott Barnes has ascended to the pinnacle of NCAA basketball. Barnes, now at Utah State, will be the head of the tournament selection committee next season.
• Preps: It's Thursday, Prep Page day, so we have a lot to pass along. There is a great Jim Allen feature on a Cheney High goalie who has battled back from a childhood brain tumor. There is Greg Lee's track notebook and his column, which looks ahead to the Jack Blair Classic. There is Jim Meehan's feature on Ferris golfer Eric Ansett (pictured). And there is our roundup of yesterday's playoff action.
• Mariners: You just had to look at the starting lineups yesterday and you knew the M's had a got shot in their final game with Pittsburgh. Felix Hernandez was pitching. And Felix did his thing, holding the Pirates to one run. But it took a late solo shot from his catcher, Jesus Montero, to make the M's and Felix a 2-1 winner. … Michael Saunders has embraced the leadoff role.
• Sounders: You can't wait much longer than the Sounders did to win an MLS game. With time running out (not just in regulation but in penalty time), Djimi Traore scored the only goal of the night and Seattle escaped Kansas City with an improbable 1-0 win. Even coach Sigi Schmid admitted the Sounders were lucky.
• There is no way I'm complaining. Just because we are headed for another scorcher of a day (for May), I'm not complaining. No siree. I'm more than happy to enjoy the sunshine while I can. After all, come the first week of June, it will be rainy, gloomy and all around depressing. It happens every year here, so I'm ready. But for now, I'm living in the moment. The 80-degree moment. Though I'm sure if Angel Hernandez and his crew were watching the Weather Channel, they would be commenting on how the frost was sure pretty in Spokane right now. Until later …