The Home Run Derby participants rained down tater tots on the frothing St. Louis crowd last night like so many nickels and dimes and Brewers big bopped Prince Fielder emerged victorious in the end, but the big story of the night was the marriage of sports, entertainment and technology in the form of LASERS.
Taking a page from the FOX network's ill-fated experiment in giving hockey pucks a glowing tail to help viewers locate a fast-moving puck, the ad wizards at ESPN decided that baseball fans needed to know the exact moment when high fly balls crossed over the outfield fences. How else would we know when to join in the Chris Berman choir and shout out "GONE!" as if we were all equally brain-dead?
The system uses radar to track the path of a speedy fly ball, and added a colorful yellow tail that turned green once the ball had officially exited the field of play. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, when the lasers actually appeared (and they didn't for most of the night), it produced a streaky squiggle that made it look like Tim Wakefield was chucking a bunch of knucklers into Big Mac Land.
Sure, this was just a silly exhibition and not a competitive baseball game, so I can't blame ESPN for dumbing it down for the hausfraus and rubes. But if ESPN considers using this technology during actual real live games, I'd be forced to shake my fist at the television screen and then write a far, far angrier blog post that nearly fifty people would read. Take that, Berman!