Recently, top scientists working in the biggest laboratories in the US have discovered that the NFL is bad. The most amazing part of this discovery is that not only is the NFL bad, but they've also proven that it sucks. Argue with the science all you want science deniers, but this is real and it is happening.
For serious though, there have been some developments in professional football in recent years that, I think, have made the game worse. And I'm not even talking about the moral issues around their handling of concussions. So many of the helmet logos are all baroque and aggressive looking, like the Texans, Patriots, and the worst one, the Broncos. And their old one used to be so cool.
The clunky rhythm of the game (or lack of rhythm, more accurately) is another peeve of mine. So many penalties are litigated and levied and endlessly argued. No incomplete pass play is complete without the receiver doing that quick flappy hand thing signaling to the referee that he believes the defender interfered on the play. It's unbecoming.
Baseball has largely been without these kinds of displays. Sure, batters and pitchers express discontent with ball and strike calls and such, but if a pitcher did that quick flappy hand thing at the umpire every time a close pitch was called a ball he would get his ass run before first beers are finished.
This isn't meant to be a hot football take or anything, though. I actually quite like football. But there are similarities and differences between the two professional leagues that I want to highlight here because of a few things I saw that gave me the willikers in this masterpiece of a World Series.
As we all know, baseball has been tinkering with instant replay in recent years and they have chosen to model their replay system after the NFL system. The most prominent similarity is that a replay is (mostly) triggered by a coach's challenge. The umpires make their call on the play, but they won't review that call unless the manager uses one of his few official challenges to do so. There are other ways to run a replay system (or not have one at all), but it is this particular element of the current system that I want to bitch about today.
Every close play at second, every attempted steal, every bang-bang play on a force out at first featured the runner or the fielder (whoever was on the losing end of the umpire's call) instantly making some gesture towards the dugout like that annoying quick flappy hand signal. And sure, it's a close call. Maybe the umpire got it wrong. But that kind of instant pleading "I'm so aggrieved!" gesture is so fucking annoying.
The World Series, in general, is about as high-leverage as baseball gets, right? That high-stakes drama is what makes it so special. The 162-game season has plenty of dramatic moments, sure, but the distillation of drama in the postseason is like switching from beer to whiskey. So I understand the players are amped up and excitable and animated. If he thinks he is safe, he isn't going to casually attempt to get his manager's attention to try to initiate the review. His shit is going to 100% flip.
I think that's why we didn't really see these kinds of displays in the regular season. The processes are the same, so if the player thinks the umpire got it wrong he is still going to try to get his manager to call for a review. But Saturday afternoon in July is not Game 7 in the World Series. His shit might still flip a bit, but maybe like 35-38%, tops.
I suppose if these desperate pleading gestures for reviews are mostly reserved for the most high-pressure games it won't bother me so much. And there are plenty of reasons why baseball should change the current replay system. But I don't know. Watching Dexter Fowler pop up after getting tagged out at second and making that face and yelling and acting all like a jerk about it just had me pissing up a rope.