How Do You Say "I Hate You" To An Umpiring Machine?

The "human element" has lost its meaning in the loud, ongoing argument over officiating flubs. It really shouldn't.
Share |

After game two of the American League Championship Series, Joe Girardi addressed the press about Jeff Nelson’s blown call at second base, which extended an inning in which the Tigers went on to score twice. “I am not saying if the call was right last night that we win the game last night either,” he said, before abruptly and uncharacteristically taking a turn towards the expansive. “But in this day and age there is too much at stake, and the technology is available. That's what our country has done. We have evolved technology to make things better.”

Girardi then dodged a question about whether or not he was, in fact, Anonymous and politely told the reporters he had some New York Comic Con after-parties to attend. It was the most pointed thing Girardi had ever said, arguably, but in context and in general it made sense. More to the point, it highlighted a contrast that is increasingly impossible to ignore: if even an upright, cliche-powered android like Joe Girardi is getting feisty about instant replay in baseball, who could possibly be left to convince?

The answer, actually, is not so far away; one press room over, in the same stadium, as it turned out. Here is Jim Leyland’s predictably old school, epically gravel-voiced responds to the blown call: “I like the human element, to be honest with you. The umpires do a great job, and at the same time sometimes they go for you and sometimes they go against you. That's just the way it is. But that is the human element of the game."

Right, the human element. It’s the phrase of the moment for Atlanta Braves fans still grappling with more creative applications of the infield fly rule and Seattle Seahawks fans dealing with the guilt that comes with having an undeserved win in the standings. It’s not a meaningless phrase or a meaningless idea, but there is some passive absolution in it: Humans! They make mistakes! It’s their very essence! Their distinctive element! There is even a ubiquitous insurance commercial to this effect that runs during the games, as if to remind us of all this.

This is correct enough, if you’re going to go by such metrics as “the entirety of human history to this point” and “things one can observe during the average daily commute to work.” But can’t we be human, fully ourselves and fully mortal, and also figure out a way to screw things up a little bit less often, and less egregiously?

***

Girardi has a point. Technology is designed to erase or, at very least, hide the mistakes that we goofy, lousy, stubbornly human humans make daily. And it’s not like we’re waiting on SkyNet to manufacture the tools he’s (rather passive-aggressively) asking for. The replays that would have saved his team two runs in Sunday’s eighth inning are instantly available to anyone watching the game. This is true even with balls and strikes, a facet of the game where everyone seems a lot more comfortable with that old human non-standardization. Witness the way that TBS’s instant strike zone graphic has made everyone an insufferable backseat umpire. Any, all of this is possible.

Which is a different thing than saying that it’s necessary, or advisable, or even good. This is a question that is already receiving its passive answer: slowly, refs and umps are being supplanted (and occasionally bailed-out) by the all-seeing camera eye. They are given the power to “get it right” as the announcers proudly proclaim. And because getting it right is such a good thing, there will be a widening of the occasions and opportunities in which they can get it right. And as soon as there is a way to make getting-things-right happen very quickly, refs and umps will start to disappear. Not from nature, as beefy, argumentative men will always be with us, and those ump-ish men shouldn’t have too hard a time finding work. But it seems reasonable to assume that this is the beginning of a long fade for the officials. They will be replaced, it seems reasonable enough to assume, by robotic killing machines.

Or... well, there’s no guarantee that the new machines will kill, exactly, especially if they are properly maintained. But they’re probably coming, and we should obviously hope that they do not achieve sentience beyond the ability to interpret the infield fly rule and offensive pass interference. But while it might be wise to get comfortable with the idea of our new umpiring robot overlords, it’s tough to celebrate it, exactly.

What we’d lose in this scenario is not the human element itself, exactly. That seems safe, given that humans will still be the ones playing and coaching these games, and will find ways to introduce human foul-ups to the mix here, as we do everywhere else. But we would lose the authoritative element, and that’s something. We’d lose an element that makes sports so annoyingly relatable and recognizably human. It’s not quite as simple as fewer humans on the field leading to less humanity on the field. But it’s not necessarily all that much more complicated than that, either.

The umps are the third force on the playing field even if they don’t get a mention on your ticket stub. At best they’re the chorus in the Greek tragedy commenting with a collective voice on the unfolding drama. At worst they’re the parent/teacher/cop/boss or authority figure of your choice put on earth just to mess with you, dude.

This can be annoying, and often is, but it opens up a whole new range of sub-experiences that are part of the bigger sports-watching/sports-doing experience. Who can deny the cathartic euphoria of watching a manager lose his mind and pressure-wash an ump with a spit soaked tirade of insults? That umpire, who so deserves all this, has just ruined your day, but more importantly, stands as a totem for every prickly, arbitrary, power-addled idiot who has ever really ruined your day.

So much about sports is about projecting ourselves onto our stars. We peg our moods to their performances and find solace in the ups and downs of their careers that can at times mirror our own; we borrow some of their greatness and share in disappointment, all within a safe, vicarious range. Would it really be any fun if they got to live in an unrecognizable world of perfect, robot-delivered justice and we were stuck in this one? His desires in the moment were natural enough, but Joe Girardi might want to put Robocop in his Netflix queue, and be careful what he wishes for.


Share |

Comments

Existing without the answers to the difficulties you’ve sorted out through this guide is a critical case, as well as the kind which could have badly affected my entire career if I had not discovered your web site Carpet Cleaning

will really appreciate the writer's choice for choosing this excellent article appropriate to my matter.Here is deep description about the article matter which helped me more.

Much appreciated you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. more helpful hints

It turned out to be Very useful to me and I am certain to every one of the observers here! fahrrad navigation

Should there be another persuasive post you can share next time, I’ll be surely waiting for it. Cheap adjustable dumbbells

Thanks for this awesome webpage that you have. I like to read your post bowl

Great things you’ve always shared with us. Just keep writing this kind of posts.The time which was wasted in traveling for tuition now it can be used for studies.Thanks ddos booter

Thanks for this awesome webpage that you have. I like to read your post Teacher course

much obliged to you for an incredible post. site

The data you have posted is exceptionally valuable. The locales you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.. Instagram Web Viewer

he students who have studied BSC Nursing also must have recognition and they also must get employment opportunity as perVail Bachelor Party

Thanks a lot very much for the high quality and results-oriented help. I won’t think twice to endorse your blog post Electrician Three Lakes

I really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. I assure this would be beneficial for most of the people vpn secure

Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field. Brilliant .i love it reading. assembly jobs at home

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You rock and please keep up the successful work locksmith hallandale

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here professional link building

Very good web site with the exceptional good quality goods along with I’m confident this is drastically valuable club penguin go

If you already know anything regarding the industry in any respect, you will may have learned that these kind of loans get higher cost. article source

Reviews This was what I Was Actually looking for, and I am glad to cam here! Thanks for sharing the information with us Such Breckenridge Female Strippers

I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions get more Info

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. dream league soccer cheat

hanks a lot very much for the high quality and results-oriented help. I won’t think twice to endorse your blog post to anybody who wants and needs support about this area. photo retouching

think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writingsalvia for sale

I see the greatest contents on your blog and I absolutely love reading them. jacksonville mls

I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it.good movies on Canadian Netflix

Thank you so much for this very usefull information. It's just a very effectively written article. It will likely be useful to anyone who makes use of it, together with me.
Book Party

Very good web site with the exceptional good quality goods along with I’m confident this is drastically valuable.animation services in los angeles

Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot wordpress developer weston-super-mare

Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot IPhone apps

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here cologne for sale

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place.
next page

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place
next page

You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. kit tattoo

It would be ideal if you share more like that. increase search engine traffic scottsdale

It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions
next page

share good stuff with This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this agai. concrete construction jobs

share good stuff with This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this aga demolition jobs hiring

The post is made in to a great degree a better than average way and it includes various accommodating information for me. costumes Canada

Just wanted to tell you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. The information you provide is really very good
next page

You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article.
next page

I want people to know just how good this information is in your article. It's interestbuy YouTube views
ing, compelling content

On my website you'll see similar texts, write what you think. travel nursing companies
get the facts

All you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
magnetic mosquito net door

Pleasant to be going to your web journal once more, it has been months for me. Well this article i've been sat tight for so long
additional Info

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know SFL Piletech

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.. marietta personal injury attorney

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one
next page

A debt of gratitude is in order For sharing this Superb article.I utilize this Article to demonstrate my task in college.it is helpful For me Great Work. Logo designing ! Backlink service review

Thanks so much for this information. I have to let you know I concur on several of the points you make here and others may require some further review, but I can see your viewpoint. NJ Wedding Limos

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information WordPress WooCommerce Websites