Crying Foul: Metal Detectors and Instant Replay. Yay or Nay? Part 2

In an earlier piece, I discussed the absurdity of the “no-collision” ruling MLB has insisted on making “law” by the 2015 season. No matter how one wishes to rationalize it, the ruling is flat out dumb. As I stated, I understand the rationale for the rule—collisions are absolutely dangerous—but it’s the ill-formulated belief that this is something that is fully (or even partially) controllable and won’t damage the integrity of the game (it will). I also commented on pitchers being allowed to wear special helmets, something I think is LONG overdue considering the number of pitchers in just recent memory who have had a ball slam into their noodle. These weren’t the only two announced decisions coming directly out of or in the vicinity of the 2013 Winter Meetings; there were others. The two others that got my attention the most are the extended replays and the metal detectors.

Extended Instant Replay?

I’m a near purist. I don’t think things should be fiddled with if they aren’t significantly broken or really and truly needed. And in the case of expanded instant replay, I just don’t see a true need for it. Baseball is about human interaction. It is pure. There are checks and balances in place. It’s an imperfect game too. Certain reviews I can understand, but to allow the already long game to be delayed for even one questionable call is absurd to me. That said, I also understand the reason for the ruling of extended replay. In recent seasons there have been calls that have turned the tide in games, calls that should have been obvious, even to a layperson. I’m going to call this one a “Yay” because while personally I don’t think it’s something truly needed, some of the calls—especially in the last couple of seasons—have been utterly bizarre. Furthermore, to some degree I agree it’s overdue. As a devoted Tigers fan, I still have the Galarraga perfect game call by Jim Joyce etched into my memory, I know there’s been need. IF the ruling doesn’t add significant time to the game, then I’m all for it. If it does, then BOO! For now, I’ll swallow my purity complex and give it the benefit of the doubt.


Metal Detectors?

Lots of things came out of the 2013-2014 off-season. Along with the whole pitchers with helmets and the collision rulings, there came yet another change to our beloved sport. While the other alterations all have to do with fundamentally changing various aspects of the game of baseball, this one affects fans directly: metal detectors.

For anyone who’s been at a MLB game in their life, you know from first-hand knowledge that once those gates open there’s organized chaos as fans file in to get to the beer, their seats, to the dugouts for possible signatures, to the bullpen areas, to the games and rides, and the bathroom. It’s organized chaos.

The rationale for placing metal detectors at all 30 parks is to protect spectators and players from act of violence. This ruling seems more to be a knee-jerk response to the horrific Boston Marathon bombings than to any real threat. Let’s face it folks, baseball hasn’t had any major fan violence aimed at a specific game or team in a VERY long time. There’s never been a shooting at a game. There have been no credible bomb threats in some time—the last three most newsworthy threats came in 2012 at Comerica Park and last season at Camden Yards and (kinda; it was a veiled threat at best) during the World Series , neither of which panned out to be serious enough to warrant this action. In fact, the Comerica Park one was so obviously a hoax that the game wasn’t interrupted at all. This ruling is a response to the unlikely event a game will be bombed or some fan will go nuts.

We have become a nation of knee-jerk reactions to violence. The fact is that we don’t need metal detectors at games. Again, I understand and appreciate the desire to protect fans, but what are we being protected against? Nothing credible.

Add to this that bomb making materials can be easily disguised if a person has the wherewithal to do so, and plastic explosives don’t show in a standard metal detector scan and we have nothing more than a Band-Aid placed over a random spot on the skin, with the HOPE that the skin will break at that point. Explosives are detected by scanners that pick up on the vapors emitted from the explosives. If these detectors don’t have that capability, then, as I just said, this is a bandage over a wound that doesn’t yet exist. I’m all for pro-active over re-active, but this is something that’s re-active to non-credible threats.

Let’s not forget too that working guns can now be manufactured by 3D printers. Bullets aren’t hard to get through detectors when they are masked as necklace pendants or some other apparel. To catch these weapons of mass destruction MLB needs the scanners/air testers than the TSA has. We all know how that slows things down.

Metal detectors give a false sense of security. They simply don’t work. If a person commits to bombing the park or shooting up the place, they WILL find a way to do it. And in nearly 100 years of baseball, nobody has been so bold to seriously try. Now, MLB is giving them a challenge.

I, for one, vote against applying a bandage to an area where no room exists. I object to giving people a false sense of security, when no one is actually afraid. I hate the idea of creating a monster, a threat, where no credible threat exists.

If I were to rank the lasts decisions from worst to best, my top to—in order—are the no collisions at home (regardless of how the ruling is worded) and the metal detectors. By default then, the two best decisions are—again in order—the instant replay followed by giving pitchers the option to wear helmets. In reflection, I guess that makes it a push in decisions—two that affect the game, two that don’t. A .500 batting average is the best in the league.