4-6-3: A Web Series


4-6-3 is an episodic comedy web series about a pair of baseball-loving friends who cope with the trivial problems posed by being a fan of humanity’s greatest past time in a society that’s grown increasingly dismissive of it.

Issue of the Week: Instant Replay

Al’s Take: Umps 4ever!

Baseball is, at its core, all about human error. A pitcher fails to locate his fastball. A hitter gets fooled by a slider and swings at something out of the zone. A shortstop stumbles as he charges towards a grounder, it glances off the leather, and he fails to make the play. There are no do-overs or mulligans. Mistakes are made and the game goes on. There’s no reason this shouldn’t apply to umpires too.

Baseball is a human game with human umpires and if we’re going to take them out of the equation we might as well just run statistical simulations instead of playing the games altogether. Replay takes away umps’ authority. It takes away those fun moments of chance and change. It takes away the passion that erupts when the hometown team disagrees with a call. With replay, there’s no room for argument and anger: video makes the call final. It takes away part of being a fan.

The conversation about Instant Replay is a fundamental disruption of this game of errors. It takes away an element of chance that adds so much fun and excitement to the game. This is a game. It’s a not a courtroom where we must review all the evidence and reach a verdict; it’s a game where we’ve given power to a few overweight men in slacks and black collared shirts and to take it away and refer to replay takes away their purpose and one of the things that universally unites baseball fans: arguing. If there’s no replay, fans get to argue about a call and how things “would’ve gone” for years. When you’re reviewing footage, well, so much for that fun heated night at the bar discussing whether or not the Jeffrey Maier catch should’ve been deemed interference.

Furthermore, part of the fun of the game is tricking the umps. If you endorse replay now, you might as well endorse robot strike zones and then every catcher who knows how to frame sees their earning potential go down significantly. Selling an HBP, making a play so close an ump can’t tell if you’re safe or not, these are the little pieces of the game that add fun and subjectivity. They’re skills, whether you want to admit it or not.

Umps have skills too. Skills that make them the referees the sport needs. Sure, sometimes they make mistakes, but so do the players, and the coaches, and the managers, and the front offices (see the contract of one Crawford, Carl). That’s the beauty of the game: grown men try their best, many fail, some succeed, and the result is a sport unlike any other (aside from softball, of course). Allowing replay to rectify those mistakes fundamentally changes the game. Why change what’s already beautiful?

Ramiro’s Take: Machines Know Truth!

Dude, it’s about getting it right. If I’m hauling ass trying to go from 1st to 3rd on a single and they call me safe when video clearly says I wasn’t: that’s shit. When you keep replay out of the game, you keep out objectivity and make room for bias that can directly change history. History! Winners shouldn’t be determined by some 50 year old with a power complex who’s afraid to visit the optometrist. Wins and losses should be determined by the players on the field, not the weird obese dudes dispersed around them.

These dudes work year-round, 24/7, 365 to be in the best place to win. You’re gonna tell me that when they hit a home run near the foul pole that they’ve got to step back in the box because the ump biffed the call after he lost it in the sun? Get out of here. Think about Armando Gallaraga. He lost a perfect game because Jim Joyce made a mistake. Perfect games should only get wrecked by players making errors, not these alleged neutral parties. And here’s what’s even crazier: Joyce said later when he saw the footage, that he was wrong! He owned up to it. Why would we let history go on saying that there was a hit when anyone with half an iris can see that there wasn’t? When even the ump who made the mistake has fessed up to being wrong? When a mistake is made -- ya rectify it. You don’t shrug your shoulders and just keep going about your day.

Umps are a thing of the past. We only had ‘em because we needed people to call games back when computers were just typewriters with little apples on their sides. Now we’ve got laser sensors and statcast and 27 different camera angles. We can measure body movement and heat signatures and spin rate. If we’ve got the tools to say how many times a Charlie Morton change-up makes a rotation en route to the plate, then we’ve got the tools to make sure the play called once it’s hit is accurate to and respectful of the players on the field.

This conservative B.S. of “don’t change a game that’s got nothing wrong,” is such a misinformed way of thinking. Improvements come to this game every generation: the addition of gloves, integration, the DH (fight me on this later), expansion, the wild card. The game grows, it gets better. Getting calls right, keeping this thing fair, and making sure the only people influencing the box score are the ones in uniform: that indisputably makes the game better.