Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tech? No.

Today’s post – by an older but unwiser Farmdoc – is based on three premises: First, ours is an age of wondrous technology. Second, that technology’s no end in itself, but is only justified if it’s useful. And third, sport’s big big business – especially US major league baseball [MLB] [1]. So here’s a yarn about MLB and (lack of) technology.

A baseball ‘perfect game’ is when a pitcher pitches a whole game and gets every batter out: no hits, no walks, no baserunners; 27 batters up and 27 down (3 per innings for 9 innings [2]. It’s been done only 20 times in the 120 years of MLB history comprising some 200,000 games. But, incredibly, it’s already happened twice this year, in a season only two months old.

A few days ago, the third perfect game in 2010 almost happened. An undistinguished Detroit pitcher had 26 up and 26 down. Just one to go. The batter hit a weak ground ball and ran, the fielder threw to first base, and the umpire called…safe! Thus no perfect game. What’s worse, the video replay shows the umpire was wrong [3]. Clearly. It’s been called the most embarrassing gaffe in MLB history.

If video technology’s good enough for cricket (‘the third umpire’ [4]) and tennis (‘Cyclops’ [5]) then why not MLB Why not indeed. That’s the good old US of A for you. Ho hum.

P.S. Thanks to darling Emily for relaying on an explanatory email from Shane Hunt of Boston University Economics Department.

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