pur·ist noun ˈpyu̇r-ist\n: a person who has very strong ideas about what is correct or acceptable and who usually opposes changes to traditional methods and practices
If you are a baseball purist the 2014 season is going to shake your core beliefs. On the day that Barry Bonds returned to Pittsburgh to present Andrew McCutchen with the MVP trophy and Ryan Braun took the field to a standing ovation in Milwaukee, Major League Baseball also ushered in expanded instant replay. It is sort of ironic that the battleground in baseball purity took center stage in the city of Pittsburgh. Bonds has become a pariah due to his use of performance enhancing drugs, so much so that the greatest hitter in a generation could only muster 36% of the vote for the Hall of Fame on his first ballot this winter. Pirates’ fans took the first steps in forgiving Bonds for some of his transgressions, but he still has a long way to go before baseball purists will ever forgive him for sullying the game. Personally, I don’t like PEDs in baseball. I want the game to be clean. But I’m not willing to trash all of Bonds’ accomplishments because of PED use. I don’t hate Ryan Braun because he used PEDs. I hate him because he threw an average hard working joe under the bus. Oh, and I also hate him because he plays for the Brewers. But truth be told, if I were a Brewers fan in Milwaukee on Opening Day I would have cheered Braun too.
What should be a bigger travesty than PED use to baseball purists is the use of instant replay. The first instant replay challenge in baseball history took place in Pittsburgh in the 5th inning of Opening Day of the 2014 season when Cubs manager Rick Renteria appealed umpire Bob Davidson’s out call at first base after pitcher Jeff Samardzija bunted into a double play. History will show that Davidson’s call was upheld, and so begins a new era of baseball. I can’t believe I feel this way, but I hate instant replay. I’ve always thought that the injustice of a bad call should never be acceptable in this day and age of advanced video technology. But the more I think about instant replay the more I hate it. I appreciate all of the beautiful flaws that occur during a game. The imperfections of the game is what makes it so perfect. Some of the greatest mistakes in the history of the game are among the greatest moments in the game, and that includes umpiring mistakes. Is it a sports travesty that Don Denkinger blew a call in the 1985 World Series that helped the Royals defeat the Cardinals? Is it a sports travesty that Jim Joyce blew a call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game? Of course it is, but subtracting these moments from history makes the game a little too perfect for my liking. The umps get the call right 99.8% of the time. I’m ok with the 0.2% of the time the umps get it wrong. Even if it means having to live with this call.