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And Another Thing


MLB: Welcome to the 21st century

I know what the lost-in-the-past crowd will think of this. They'll say Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown just wouldn't hold with it.

But Mordecai's been dead for 65 years, and he played baseball in an era that's been gone for a century. So whatever he thinks out there in the Great Cosmic Cornfield bears as much relevance to 2013 as a wheelbarrow does to a penguin. Which is to say, nothing.

No sport clings to mindless cant the way the Pastime does, so of course there's likely to be pushback from those who think that, because baseball didn't have replay back Nineteen Ought Five, it can't possibly have it now. Because, after all, the game is timeless, inviolate ...

Oh, heck. I can't remember how the rest of it goes. Something ... you kids get off my lawn ... something ... something.

Look. I'll be the first one to admit I detest instant replay. It makes football games that already run longer than the Punic Wars run even longer. And in practice it's often no more conclusive than human eyesight.

On the other hand, I've come to believe that if it can reverse one bad call, it's served its purpose. And if that sounds like heresy to the dour traditionalists ... well, anyone who still thinks the game is besmirched by the designated hitter didn't see Pirates' pitcher Francisco Liriano's farcical "at-bat" in the ninth inning the other night.

Guy never took his bat off his shoulder, nor did he go to the plate intending to. He was just trying to get it over with using the least amount of effort possible.

So what was the purpose of sending him up there again?

And where does it say that blown calls are some bedrock value of the game?

Somewhere back in Ought Four. I'm guessing that's where.

Ben Smith's blog.