Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thin Blue Line

Bud Selig and the players of Major League Baseball are currently discussing the use of more video instant replay to ensure the proper calls are made during contested plays. Was the ball fair or foul? Was it in the glove or trapped against the ground? Currently these calls are made by those eagle-eyed defenders of the game: umpires. Will baseball go the way of the National Football League and start checking the tape for every little thing? Whether they do or not, one thing is certain: I have a great deal of empathy for the men in blue.
I spend a day a week as part of the physical education staff at our school, officiating over a wide variety of games, from four square to Builders and Bulldozers. In a relatively confined space, I am called upon to determine the validity of a six-year-old's claim that he did not kick the plastic cone but did, in fact, knock it over with his outstretched hand. Meanwhile, on the other side is the six-year-old girl who is vehemently denying this claim. Would I like a little help from the booth on that one? You bet I would. How about the play at second base when we're playing kickball? I'm also trying to keep the kids lined up against the wall lined up against the wall and the girls who are wandering off to the drinking fountain within earshot. And I'm playing pitcher for both teams. Was this kid safe? Sure. Why not? It's just a game, right?
Try telling that to a fourth grader who has just run as hard and fast as he or she may have run in the past calendar year, while his or her counterpart has done just the same and arrived at the exact point where they both needed to be. Who was first? What can I do if I didn't see it clearly? We Ro-Sham-Bo. Rock, Paper, Scissors. Happily, this conflict resolution scheme has been in place long enough that, even if there is some grumbling, kids tend to accept the outcome of this purely chance event. It keeps the game moving, after all, and that's the bottom line when you've only got fifty minutes to get the game in.
That's why I'm suggesting that Major League Baseball institute Ro-Sham-Bo for any and all disputed calls for the rest of the season. Did the ball go over the wall, or was it a ground rule double? You've got rock. He's got scissors. Rock wins. Don't send it up to the booth, or under the tent, just Ro-Sham-Bo. Keep the game moving. Of course, the world championship of baseball shouldn't be decided on on the outcome of one chance operation. For the World Series it will be best two out of three.

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