More Than Eight Minutes Of Your Life
Chatting at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Submit your questions here. Topics: Spelling Bee, a scheduled lunch with Erin Andrews, bobblehead FAIL, D.C. United ties, the ethics of working during vacation days, my new gig part-time blogging for thesportingblog.com">The Sporting Blog starting this week, whatever.
So the Lakers are playing the Nuggets in Game 4 of a terrific playoff series, and I, like several thousand other sickos, am sitting here watching the Nats play baseball. Why am I doing this? Because, despite the potential of a Daniel Cabrera appearance, I wanted to watch some Nationals baseball.
Instead, for nearly nine minutes, I got to watch men in tight clothes standing around and talking with each other, crossing their arms and spitting. Yeah, it was another epic home-run replay convention, a meeting of the minds that led to exactly nothing, but only if you consider Rob Dibble talking about various zoo animals nothing. Gary Sheffield launched a bomb to left, some fan reached over the railing and made contact, the third-base ump said it was gone, and then the fun began. I'll start the timer from the moment the pitch was thrown.
[Edited with a more accurate, but blurrier, screengrab.]
[And I should note that the above MASN screengrab came a moment after the fan touched the ball, making it look more conclusive than it actually was. When he touched the ball, the ball wasn't totally visible, which is why I forwarded a few frames. Still, the general impression was the same.]
:30: Manny Acta comes out to "argue." Most likely, he was asking the umps to grab him some extra bubble gum when they went back to their secret treehouse to watch Star Trek trailers.
1:00: "That fan's WAY in play, that's not a home run," Dibble says, during the first of many sequences of replays. "This ball has a downward plane." It becomes clear to the broadcast team that this call will be reversed.
1:55: John Lannan, the pitcher in question, is shown, arms-crossed.
2:30: Now it's Wil Nieves, the catcher, arms-crossed, the official pose of lengthy MLB delays.
2:45: Rob Dibble finally brings up Jeffrey Maier. 'Bout time.
3:20: Lannan starts throwing from the mound.
3:40: Now it's Jerry Manuel, out having a discussion. What in the world could he need to know at this point? Who's got control over the remote in the treehouse? What's happening in the Lakers game? Whether the popcorn is ready yet?
3:45: Bob Carpenter points out that this process was supposed to take 90 seconds, or maybe two minutes. Well, sure, and Minnesota was supposed to decide its senator in November, like the rest of us. Except for those of us who live in D.C. and who spend our evenings watching Nats baseball.
4:00: Dibble suggests that Lannan should go sit down in the dugout, take a load off. What a sport.
4:20: Another in the sequence of mega-replays, complete with the zoom-in on the glorious, I-need-this-ball-to-pay-my-mortgage fan.
"We should call that the bifocal [cam]," Dibble notes during the zoom, "because Bob and I are vision-impaired at our age."
4:50: "C'mon," Dibble pleads. "The kid's local, give Lannan a break." Indeed, Lannan is from New York and his parents are in the crowd. I'd be curious to see how frequently player birthplaces enter the discussion inside the replay treehouse.
5:00: Hey look, it's John Lannan's parents.
5:20: Hey look, it's John Lannan's parents.
5:25: Lannan heads to the dugout for some liquid refreshment. Drink, spit, drink, spit, drink, fling the rest of the liquid on the ground. If you paused it at the right point and took out your camera, you could certainly make it look like Lannan was vomiting. That's how prolific was his spitting.
5:50: Dibble comes out in favor of replay. "I like it," he says. "Get the call right....Let's just get this call right, right here."
6:05: Carpenter plugs the Miller Lite Party Night. I check the promo for any spelling mistakes. Nope, looks clean. Aside from the whole "Lite" thing.
6:30: Lannan is now attempting to set a land-speed record for "most times a pitcher has crossed his arms between pitches." I've lost count.
6:45: In some sort of private joke that goes over my head, Carpenter says that the delay has now been long enough to have met the love of your life. This leads to a story from Dibble about his significant other, who visited the L.A. Zoo this week and told him that he was somehow similar to a hippo.
"Maybe I'm eating too much food," Dibble wonders. Carpenter asks whether he was also compared to a gazelle. Dibble says no, and that he wasn't even compared to a giraffe, though that would be better, since giraffes are skinny with long necks. Those were his general thoughts, I think, unless I hallucinated the episode.
"Are they always like this?" my wife asks.
7:30: Hey, it's Lannan, standing with Nieves. His arms are crossed.
7:35: Look look! Adam Dunn's arms are also crossed!
7:45: Here come the umps. They signal it's a homer, making their field trip as necessary as a Twitter console at a retirement home.
"Oh, no way," says instant replay backer Rob Dibble, as the replays roll again. "You know why, because it's inconclusive, so the call on the field stands....They didn't get the call right. That guy's way over the line right there."
8:30: Gary Sheffield is laughing, celebrating his newly validated home run. He's had two birthdays since he last swung a bat.
8:48: Lannan throws another pitch.
Postscript: "This was supposed to happen A LOT faster than that," Carpenter points out.
"What's the purpose?" asks one-time instant replay backer Rob Dibble. "You slow down the tempo of the game."
That, Dibble explains, is why he has replay doubts. A few more minutes of quiet introspection, though, and Dibble...nope, still opposed.
"You can tell this guy knocked the ball down, about three-quarters of the way down the wall," he says, "but the umpires aren't gonna make themselves look bad, so they come back out, and if it's something that's a gray area, so to speak, their call goes on the field."
"The umpire who makes the initial call, the knee-jerk call that it's a home run, he's got to be in that room praying to himself that that thing proves him right," Carpenter adds. "So there is some human nature variables that come into play here. I mean, you want to be right."
"And maybe next time he'll get his butt down the left field line a little bit farther when he makes the call," Dibble concludes. "You know, that's part of his job. He's got a job to do. Just get the call right."
And look, whether you do or you don't, try to keep it under eight minutes. Clearly, as shown by me watching Daniel Cabrera walk the bases loaded in relief, my time is very valuable.
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