Friday, March 24, 2006

I hate to nit pick

but equating a tennis match loss by Jennifer Capriati to the "saddest thing ever" is like saying a flat tire is the equivalent of being raped. I disagree with both. Ever is a very long time.

I also feel the urge to temper the Kettle's "wonderful" rating given to Lindsay "i choke in grand slam finals or feign an injury so I can place the blame somewhere else" Davenport. Don't get me wrong, I like Lindsay. I think there should be more big not-so-cute American girls playing sometimes-great-sometimes-mediocre tennis on the international stage. But Lindsay screwed me in last year's Wimbledon final when she, yet again, choked on a hair ball and lost a match she should have won. It cost me a bundle and I still haven't gotten over it. Wonderful she is not.

Finally, as to instant replay, I'm a bit torn. Part of the lure of sports such as baseball, football, basketball (to a lesser extent) and tennis is that they grew up in an age of little or no technology. The calls on the court or on the field were made by men (and now some women) and those calls were final. It led to fights, arguments, kicking dirt on the umpire's shoes. Boos from the crowd, calls for the referee to get new glasses and even, once in a while, an assault. It gave you an excuse to utter when your team lost a close game: "if the f**king ump had his eyes open, they never would have scored those three runs!"

Football made the decision years ago to go to instant replay. I grew up watching the Giants play and hearing the man in white and black stripes utter the words "after further review, the play stands as called." The NFL owners then thought better of it and eliminated instant replay. Then, in a very John Kerry flip-flop fashion, they adopted instant replay again a few years ago (this time with some limitations on when and how it could be done and limiting the number to just a few challenges per team). It is still alive today, although the NFL continues to tweak it. Basketball uses instant replay for limited purposes (most the time just to figure out whether the clock should be adjusted based on when the ball went out of bounds or whether a buzzer beater was out of the hands of the player before time ran out).

Now tennis has joined in the technology which, overall, I think is unfortunate.

I'll miss the bad calls and the fights with the chair ump (or as the not-so-annoying John McEnroe would refer to them as, the "chump"). The back talk and mutterings under a player's breath will be gone. So will a bit of what makes tennis fun to watch. In my humble opinion, its a loss for the game and sportsmanship since the entire reason behind this move is so players can advance on technicalities rather than just taking a bad call in stride and making the next volley that much better.

If baseball ever goes to a instant replay, I might have to stop watching sports.

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