THE COUCH SLOUCH

Calling a foul on the grammar police, replay apologists

Kevin C Cox/Getty Images

Note to readers: I had not planned to pen a second consecutive column on officiating, but a couple of readers got me really riled up.

So one reader emailed that I "misused" the term "slippery slope" and another told me I had "misappropriated" the term last week when I wrote that replay as an officiating tool is a slippery slope.

Balderdash.

Incidentally, whether I use or misuse, appropriate or misappropriate any term is up to me. It's my column, my time, my two cents' worth – well, at least until we ban the penny. So bug off and go read The New Yorker if you crave more precise and correct use of the language.

And, what, now we're going to have replay challenges on my column? No, no, no, no, no. I write it, you read it, and we move on. I'm not going to sit here beholden to every Tom, Dick and Harriet googling my every proclamation and preposition.

I stand by my work, week in and week out. Like Andy Reid just said, "Not all of Mozart's paintings were perfect."

But I digress.

For those of you who found my "slippery slope syndrome" explanation wanting, let me then switch replay gears and present my "small barking dog syndrome."

Sometimes there is a small, barking dog at your ankles that keeps nipping at your pants cuff. It's irritating, yet not enough to do more than shake your leg occasionally to free yourself of the dog's grip. But then you look down several minutes later and notice that this small barking yapping irritating creature has ripped your pants leg completely wide open.

And, there, my friends, you have the basic problem of replay as an officiating tool.

So I again plead to Sports Nation – let's return to kinder, simpler pre-replay days.

(People often fault me for "living in the past." Uh, I can't live in the future, can I? I am the product of two centuries; both have their merits and their flaws. Alas, replay as an officiating tool was mindlessly birthed in the 20th century and is reaching its devastating potential in the 21st century. Then again, since I have serious doubts if there will be a 22nd century, this problem might solve itself.)

Many people think officiating, particularly in the NFL and the NBA, is worse than ever; it's not. The officials are just scrutinized more than ever.

Do you think there was replay review when the games used to be only on radio?

Are games harder to officiate now because athletes are bigger, stronger and faster? Maybe. But it's definitely harder to officiate when millions are officiating alongside you. There are even websites, like footballzebras.com, that assess and review officials' calls 24-7.

Trust me, it would not be half as fun being an actuary if every line of your work were under replay review.

And when's the last time you saw, say, a ballet or an opera stopped because of a replay challenge? Man, those would be momentum killers – for instance, La Boheme would lose all of its steam if, just before Mimi's climactic coughing fit, Schaunard questions the receipt on the pink bonnet that Rodolpho has bought for her and throws the challenge flag.

The fact of the matter is, there are fouls and penalties committed on virtually every possession in basketball, football and life.

If you whistled every foul in the NBA by the book, every player would foul out.

If you called every holding by an offensive lineman or every pass interference, NFL games would take five hours.

If you held a U.S. president accountable for every high crime and misdemeanor committed while in the Oval Office, we wouldn't have a president.

Sometimes – particularly on the field of play – you just have to let stuff go.

(Best I can tell, the major professional sport least affected at this point by replay is hockey. So, maybe, just maybe – I know I'm going to regret this – NHL, here I come! When does the regular season start?)

Ask The Slouch

Q. When the Chicago Bears announced Mitch Trubisky injured his "non-throwing shoulder," did your finely honed journalism instincts lead you to ask if the team could be more specific? (Jeremy Sandler; Toronto)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Even the slightest improvement in equipment can give an athlete a competitive advantage. Shouldn't some company start making underwear for left-handed men? (Jack Leininger; Spokane, Wash.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Do you have any insight as to whether NBA referee Scott Foster is the "whistleblower" that President Trump is looking for? (Elliott Jaffa; Arlington, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Do you miss when the Washington R*dsk*ns used to win the offseason? I mean, it was a win. (Mike Garland; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston has lost back-to-back games

Astros drop series to Giants with finale loss

Houston's offense came up short again in San Francisco on Sunday. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games against the Giants, the Astros tried to grab the finale to win his high-difficulty series. They came up short, though, with San Francisco once again one-upping them on offense against Luis Garcia, giving Houston back-to-back losses.

Final Score: Giants 5, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 64-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Logan Webb (5-3)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (7-6)

Gurriel strikes first, but Giants get the better of Garcia

The Astros were able to grab an early lead against Logan Webb in the top of the first, getting a runner on base to set up Yuli Gurriel for a two-run homer to start the scoring. Luis Garcia, who erased a walk in the first and a double in the second to maintain the 2-0 advantage, ran into trouble in the third. After two quick outs, Kris Bryant, recently acquired by the Giants at the trade deadline, changed the momentum with a solo homer in the first game for his new team.

They scored two more runs during the two-out rally on three hits and a walk, grabbing a 3-2 lead before Garcia would get the final out. He managed a scoreless fourth, but San Francisco got to him again in the fifth, chasing him out of the game with a two-out, two-run homer to extend their lead to 5-2. His final line in the loss: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 89 P.

Giants take series as Astros drop the finale

First out of Houston's bullpen was Rafael Montero, making his debut for his new team. He did well, getting the third out of the fifth then tossing a scoreless sixth. Phil Maton was next, coming in for the bottom of the seventh and erasing a single to keep it a three-run game. After wasting a chance with two runners on in the seventh, the Astros started a new rally in the top of the eighth, getting back-to-back hits to lead it off with runners on first and third with no outs.

They would get just one run from it, though, making it 5-3, which would go final after a scoreless bottom of the eighth by Ryne Stanek and a 1-2-3 inning at the plate by Houston in the top of the ninth. That gave the Giants the series and left the Astros reeling from back-to-back losses as they turn the page to another high-caliber opponent to finish this road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel to the last leg of this road trip, Los Angeles, before a day off on Monday. Tuesday, they'll pick up a quick two-game series with the Dodgers, with Lance McCullers Jr. (8-2, 3.23 ERA) for the Astros going up against Walker Buehler (11-1, 2.19 ERA) for LA in the opener at 9:10 PM Central.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome