FanShot

Is the Pursuit of Perfection Squeezing the Fun From Baseball?

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As Klem, who died in 1951 after umpiring in the majors for 37 seasons, implied with his famous quip, baseball used to leave these types of close calls to the umps, who would then suffer the praise and abuse of players, fans and managers. Since the league was founded in 1869, umpires had the discretion to reward a great 250-foot throw from right field that (arguably) nabs the runner, or to protect the shortstop's knees by giving him a little leeway around second base, or to give a pitcher throwing a miraculous backdoor curve the benefit of the outside strike. For the most part, this has been great for the game. Television has changed professional sports, not just baseball but football, hockey and other games. Multiple-angle shots in slow motion, and then in high definition and super-slow motion, have led to more complicated and strictly enforced rules—because the plays have had to be more precisely defined for the technology to be meaningfully applied.
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