It’s Thursday night, Game 6, second quarter. The ball is knocked out of bounds, and Ron Artest and Carl Landry turn to the officials, screaming and gesturing wildly. Sheepishly, Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom put their heads down and prepare for the inbounds play. Suddenly the Toyota Center is overrun by an onslaught of boos, even though the clock has been stopped for over 20 seconds.
The fans were just shown the replay of what just happened on four gigantic screens hanging from the center of the arena, with the cameras catching what the fans knew all along — the Lakers had knocked the ball out of bounds, not the Rockets. Thirty seconds and two possessions later, the Rockets have the ball again and the previous missed call is completely forgotten.
Cut to AT&T Park, later that same night in the top of the ninth inning. Carlos Beltran steals third base on an extremely close play. Pablo Sandoval turns to the umpire, screaming and gesturing wildly. Bruce Bochy runs out of the dugout to complain. The fans boo for a second and then start murmuring quietly, looking at each other and to the gigantic, high-definition jumbotron…where the same still shot of Gary Sheffield stares back at them from the screen.
It’s one of the mysteries of Bay Area sports: why is the rest of the country seemingly able to view every controversial play that goes against the home team as quickly as the TV audience, while we’re shielded from nearly every negative replay that can possibly be shown? It’s not just Giants games, as when I had season tickets for the 2001 season with the 49ers I remember seeing the same picture of a Niner helmet after not just close/bad calls from the refs, but interceptions thrown by Jeff Garcia or touchdowns allowed by the secondary — like the bad plays never existed.
Do the PR staffs around here think we’re such softies, with so many better things to do, that any negative images will cause all of us to flee the premises like we’re getting tear-gassed? I know it can’t be because they’re afraid of how we’ll react; watch any Philadelphia Eagles home game on television and you’ll hear the same chorus of post-replay boos you’ll hear anywhere else but here.
That’s right, Philadelphia Eagle fans are allowed their chance to stare at the screen and react in furious anger, but fans around here have to wait until they get to their cars and flip on the postgame radio show to find out if the officials blew the call or not.
San Francisco Giants games have been this way since I attended games at the Stick as a 9-year-old. If the Giants got an infield hit, you’d see the replay (in fact, I’m pretty sure about 54% of the replays at AT&T this year have consisted of infield hits). The opponent hits a 475-foot home run, or the umpire incorrectly calls foul a line drive that should have been a double for the Giants? Nothing.
I’ve never been to a Raider game, and I can’t remember from the A’s and Warrior games I’ve attended whether this is the case across the Bay as well. I think so, but I don’t remember (maybe somebody can let us know in the comments section). Sadly, all I remember from the Athletics’ video screen is dot racing (which now is BART racing, preceded by a really long BART commercial) and the awful virtual limbo thing they do on the video screen without an actual limbo stick.
In no way am I one of those people who needs to be constantly entertained at a game. I don’t need mascots, t-shirt guns, pizza deliveries, kissing cams, midgets dunking, kids announcing the hitters, kids dunking midgets, multiple-choice quizzes, loud music or computerized shell games. But if we’re going to be subjected to all this other extraneous crap, at least let us see if Panda got the tag down on Beltran (he did).
We have the technology, and everyone in Houston, Philly, Buffalo, and pretty much everywhere else get to see the refs and/or the home team screw up. Not only that, but never have I seen a game ruined by angry fans following a controversial replay. They boo for a minute or two, then it’s forgotten like that blown call on Thursday night in Houston. With this I ask the Giants, 49ers and any other team around here that shields their fans from replays: if everyone else in the nation can handle the truth, why aren’t we given the same chance?