Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sounds of the Game

From ESPN magazine MLB Player X-Anonymous

There are lots of sounds that can distract a player when he's on the field. I can hear everything that goes on in the stands-the hot dog vendors, the beer guy, the hecklers. And when the crowd really starts to scream, even at home, it affects the game. It's next to impossible for shortstop to hear the third baseman or for a centerfielder to hear the rightfielder. That's one of the reasons you see so many collisions in the outfield. It's hard to hear a guy yelling, "I got it," over 30,000 shrieking fans.

Thing is, when I'm in the field, I need to be able to hear the sound of the ball coming off the bat; it helps me to anticipate where it's going. A ball hit on the barrel sounds louder and more pure than the slap of one hit on the bat's end . Line drives sound fat, weak grounders don't. Sometimes a guy's swing can fool you, so you rely on your ears as much as your eyes. Infielders listen for the impact to react quickly. Outfielders listed to judge whether a ball is going deep or shallow. If you can't hear it, there's a good chance you won't get to it.

At the plate, it's a bit quieter. You're so locked in when you're hitting, it's hard for opposing fans to distract you. Hitting is all about the eyes anyway; the fastest fastball is silent to me, even in a quiet park. The only people I hear are the ump and the catcher and the occasional pitcher taunting me. Both can make me laugh. Even after I make contact. I don't hear a home run, I feel it.

When you play so many games in a season, you enjoy the chance to have a little chat on the field, and catchers are awesome at it. We're always giving each other hell at the plate. Last week, I robbed a catcher of an RBI and he greeted me with a "Way to go, Jerk" on my next at-bat. Brian McCann, in Atlanta, always has a good sarcastic one-liner ready for hitters. The Mets' Rod Barajas is an old-timer who always delivers.

Further Review
An infamous umpire explains why baseball needs more replay.
Don Denkinger knows all too well what Jim Joyce went through. In the 1985 World Series, Denkinger botched a call at first base that kept the Royals alive in the 9th inning of Game 6. They went on to win that night and then beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7. For 25 years, Denkinger has had to live with the fact that his mistake helped change the outcome of baseball's championship.

Denkinger is speaking out in favor of instant replay (current umpires remain mum at the request of MLB) "If we had it, no one would even remember who the umpire was at first base a week later."

Denkinger, who retired in 1998, doesn't buy into the limited use of instant replay. "We need a system in place where a manager can press a button when he wants to challenge a call, then a light goes on in the press box," he says. "An umpire or a supervisor will be there to review the play. If he rules that the play has been missed, it's changed. Simple."

"You should not be haunted by one call for the rest of your life," he says. "I worked 30 years as an umpire. No one remembers the two perfect games I worked or that I worked the plate for Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, a 1-0 game. All they remember is the call I missed. You work so hard to build a reputation, then it's all taken away in a split second.

"We're wasting the technology. We need instant replay."

Now you know the words this man speaks are heartfelt. He's lived it and it really is unfair that he's remembered for an honest mistake.

So he blew a call. We all make mistakes. Who's to say which one is worse than the other? If the capability of replay was available it would have saved him the humiliation of living under the cloud of a bad call.

He is speaking out about Instant Replay so that others won't have to endure the embarrassment of an honest mistake.

Honest mistake, to me that's just a stutter, a blip on the radar screen. An impulse gone wrong.

Because most people care about how they present themselves, how they approach whatever it is they do, it's an honest attempt at doing something that just happened to have an unfavorable outcome.

The "Denker" is right to want Instant Replay. All the baseball purists who say it'll ruin the game should have a loved one kidnapped and the authorities who's job it is to find the loved one should be handicapped in a way that will not allow them to locate the loved one.

Let them live in a manner that emulates their limited thinking. That'll teach 'em!

Kevin Marquez