A GRIP ON SPORTS
As you age, you are supposed to get more set in your ways. That doesn't seem to be true as it relates to my relationship with baseball. Read on.
• Let's enter the Wayback Machine and set it for 1965. The Dodgers are in the World Series against the Minnesota Twins. The games were all during the day. Some of us had to be in school. And some nuns – not all – didn't take kindly to fourth graders trying to follow the game. As hard as this might seem to some of you, there were no smart phones or Internet or social media to come to the rescue. The only way to stay up on the exploits of Sandy Koufax and Willie Davis was by transistor radio. Luckily, my dad thought it was crucial his son knew what was going on so they could talk about it later. Somehow, I always seemed to have access to a radio that time of year. All you needed was a pocket, an earphone (back then they only had one side) and a fresh C battery and you were good. And, oh ya, a seat in the back of the class. With all that in place, you could listen to Vin Scully's description of the game while pretending to be paying attention to the Catechism lesson on the chalkboard. Such deceit is probably a mortal sin but how would I know? That was the lesson I was missing while listening to Game Four. Anyhow, those days of hiding a radio are long gone, though the love of listening to the postseason isn't. I “watched” the Red Sox 1-0 win over the Tigers just that way yesterday while doing other things on my computer. But there was no way I was missing the Dodgers-Cardinals game on television. I planted myself in front of the big screen and, after just a few innings, discovered I wanted baseball to change. See, TBS has this little box on the right side of the screen. It shows the strike zone and where the pitch passed through it. And it exposes the inconsistency of a human umpire. There in lies the rub, as Mr. Shakespeare might say. I love baseball and how the game is eerily similar to the game played 100 years ago. But I have become an advocate of moving it toward the future. Why do we need a person calling balls and strikes, more like guessing really, if the system baseball and TBS uses to illustrate the path of the ball can be believed? And I'm a believer. The technology is available to get each call right, especially on balls and strikes, the key aspect of the game. It's instantaneous, so the game wouldn't be slowed down a bit. Let an umpire stand back there with an electronic way to receive the computer's decision and he could call ball or strike just like he does now. And it would be correct and, most importantly, consistent. If a slider nips the front corner of the strike zone and finishes in the dirt, it's still a strike (remember, the strike zone is 3-dimensional; all the ball has to do is travel through it at some point, something last night's umpire, Bruce Dreckman, seemed to forget) and should be called that way. Every time. Not occasionally, which leads to arguments, cruddy at-bats and, to some, the thought the game is being directed a certain way. I know such technical innovations won't be introduced next year when replay might make greater inroads in the game. But the door will be open. And hopefully in my lifetime such changes will be made.
• I received some clarification early, early this morning via Twitter – woke me up from sound sleep actually – on the NWPrepsNow power rankings. Seems they are not really power rankings at all. The teams are ranked on their chances of winning a state title. I'm sure everyone knew that except me, so I won't go into my thoughts on such an exercise.
• WSU: Tomorrow was always my favorite day of the year. The Pac-12 basketball media day. Jacob Thorpe is on his way to San Francisco to attend this year's event and will have a lot for you on the blog and in the paper, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have football items today. There's his Pac-12 notebook, his conference power rankings and a morning blog post with links. … We found a bunch more links as well include the midweek mailbag on ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog, along with its second-half preview and this interesting debate concerning Marcus Mariota (pictured) and Johnny Manziel. What say you? … The Pac-12 is closing fast on the SEC. … Jon Wilner has his half-season all-conference team and there are a couple of Cougars. … Not to forget basketball, Andy Enfield is trying to integrate his system into USC's culture and Utah is doing things a bit differently this season.
• Whitworth: The Pirates start basketball practice today and Thomas Clouse has a preview focused upon the new players coach Matt Logie is welcoming to the team.
• Preps: Chris pulled double-duty yesterday, also covering Mead's volleyball win over U-Hi, creating a four-way tie for first in the GSL. Jesse Tinsley was also there and has this photo story. … We can pass along our roundup and Greg Lee's advance of the weekend's football action.
• Seahawks: There seems to be a consensus. The offense is better than people think. OK, I'll buy that. After all, the Hawks are 5-1, atop the West and one of the more dominant teams in the NFL. How bad can things be? … The short week isn't popular with any of the players, not just the injured ones. Marshawn Lynch was one of the latter yesterday, but not for the reason the team originally announced. … Richard Sherman (and others) had a lot to say yesterday, as per usual. … Russell Wilson has come a long way since his first game against Arizona last season, a game that raised some doubts. They're gone now.
• Sounders: Before we get to the Sounders, who are trying to decide who to start in goal, we have to say, why the heck did the U.S. win last night? By winning, they gave Mexico a chance to make the World Cup. I always thought the enemy of our rival was our friend. Just kidding, of course, but the Mexican team is hanging on by its teeth. … The MLS didn't take kindly to the way the Sounders ganged up on the official last week, so it fined the heck out of the organization and coach Sigi Schmid.
• That's it for today. My left arm is quite sore today. Got my flu shot yesterday. Did it when I was confronted with a house half-full with sick people, both of whom rarely get sick. I know it was an irrational response to a rational occurrence, but you folks have been reading me daily for almost two years now. You know I am not rational. Until later …