Replay is all about ad money

Welcome to the future, folks.

We got a glimpse of the imminent replay era in Major League Baseball in the 10th inning of Sunday’s eventual extra-inning Giants win over the Diamondbacks.

On a missed call that almost cost the Giants dearly, pitcher George Kontos was covering the bag on a grounder to first baseman Buster Posey, when umpire Tom Hallion called the base runner Aaron Hill safe, saying Kontos missed the base with his foot. However, Kontos so obviously tagged the base that the umpires soon conferred to overturn the call, not only ending the inning, but costing Arizona a bases-loaded shot at breaking a 2-2 tie, which instead culminated in Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson getting kicked out of the game for the second time in a four-game series.     

Baseball fans best get used to the sight on calls getting overturned, because next year when full-blown replay kicks in, it’s going to be a daily spectacle. Thanks to the National Football League for the instant-replay revolution. Yes, that is epic sarcasm.

From what I can tell, the NFL has become the most glorified dance-off on the planet. Granted, I was busy watching baseball on the opening Sunday of football season. But during intermittent channel changes between innings, it quickly became obvious that celebratory posturing and posing continues to turn the professional gridiron into a theater of the absurd.

But baseball isn’t far behind. Posing and posturing has been festering in MLB for a generation, from Barry Bonds’ iconic pointing to the sky, to Brian Wilson’s similar gesture, to the Angel Pagan salute and the Pablo Sandoval bow-and-arrow mimicry. Notice when Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez does his Batman shtick, Sergio Romo – owner of one of the most animated celebrations in baseball, no less – loses his shit to insight an on-field confrontation.

Posturing and posing has nothing to do with gamesmanship, mind you. Neither does instant replay. They are both born and bred from the same marketing strategy to keep you, the consumer, watching. Why? Because a vast majority of people in the modern age watch baseball on television. And the more television broadcasts can keep audiences’ eyes trained to the screen during the game, the easier it is for advertisers to do so during commercial breaks.

This is why television commentators are all on the same page in advocating for instant replay. Notice when MLB announced in mid-August plans to expand instant replay in 2014, how the entire broadcasting family banded together in regurgitating what sounded like the same script? Now that’s some serious Big Brother shit.

Football has long since opened Pandora’s box of integrating replay technology with advertising. And boy has the NFL got its act down. During the second quarter of the 49ers’ opening-day win over Green Bay, there was a replay that intervened on Eric Reid’s first career interception.

Fox Sports replayed the interception in question three times – the final time, just before cutting to commercial, drew the focus to the bottom third of the TV screen. Standard operating procedure is to draw focus to the middle of the screen. However, for instant replay, commercials seem to be calibrated to take advantage of drawing the audience’s attention to different quadrants of the screen. And sure enough, the Google ad that followed launched a flurry of movement towards the bottom of the screen; making for a seamless line-of-sight transition from instant replay to commercial advertisement.

This style of subliminal advertisement is rampant in football. Now baseball is following suit. All-Stars like Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson – whose combined baseball salaries are $25-million this season – are endorsing an alcohol-ridden shampoo that damages hair follicles and exacerbates baldness. But if they told people that, millions of consumers would stop using their product every day. So, they aren’t going to tell you that. 

Whether they know it or not, every pose, posture, and dance in which players engage is implicit in the practice of dirty advertising, just as every stride taken in the direction of integrating instant replay into sports. I’m not trying to be judgmental. Just like everyone in the business, I’ve often evoked the spirit of Jerry Maguire by shouting: Show me the money!

But to people on TV, lobbying for TV technology to be integrated into the game, under the guise of doing it for the integrity of the sport….

Bullshit. That’s just propaganda. Plain and simple. And dystopia isn’t too far off, if it isn’t upon us already.


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