France's Thierry Henry blatantly handled the ball in an offside position before passing to set up France's game-winning goal in extra time against Ireland yesterday. I'll give him a pass on the first one, probably inadvertant, but it's still a hand ball. The second was completely intentional and it led to a nifty pass to William Gallas for the goal.
The baseball world watched as crews of umpires missed call after call in the month of October. Baseball won't be expanding it's use of instant replay anytime soon either, but when it was used in the postseason, it quickly and correctly made calls without slowing down the game. One of the chief arguements against baseball replay is that it will take to long. Really? Unless the camera angles aren't all that great, should be pretty cut a dry. He was out a first, the outfielder trapped the ball and the runner missed home plate. Shouldn't take more than a minute in a game where half the time is spent warming up anyway.
So I ask the great representatives of FIFA and MLB. For the love all that is great in sports, please institute a greater instant replay system. Just hire a guy in to sit in a booth and watch the ESPN or FOX feed and if there is a problem, ask the TV production guys for a replay and then relay it down to the refs. It's not hard. Everyone will love you for it. Really, they would. The players secretly will like it because they know the game is being played fair and the fans will love it because they love the game anyway.
And this goes double for soccer. I am personnally sick and tired of players trying to flop, dive and do what ever is needed to draw a foul. Anytime there's a freekick in a dangerous area, have that guy in the booth determine if there was enough flop to negate the foul. Again, shouldn't take that long, the clock doesn't stop in soccer anyway. Teams usually take 30 seconds to line up the kicks anyway and in that time a referee in a booth should have more than enough time to tell the ref on the field that it's a good call or not.
Baseball needs to expand it's calls in the field. Any close play at a base, interference, trapped catches, etc. NOT Balls or Strikes. QwestTech or whatever it is should be banned. If TV wants to show us a top-down view of the ball crossing the plate fine, I'll allow it. No more of laser-guided GPS strikezone stuff. I'm going to complain about my guy striking out anyway, I don't need to see whether the or not Blue is right, ruins the moment.
To be fair to baseball, it did take steps to solve its October woes. FIFA needs to establish some kind of replay rules for International competitions -- World Cup, Qualifyers, Confederations Cup, Regional Competitions, etc. Let the top leagues (EPL, Primera, Bundesliga, MLS) decide their own rules for replay, but maybe help with some guidelines in the international game. Review all goals, free kicks in the attacking third and potential red card offenses and flopping. Seems pretty simple. Maybe start fining teams and players who flop intentionally, clean up the game a little bit.
Either way, the nation of Ireland mourns. And while the prospect of rooting against France is great (kind of like rooting against Duke in March), I'd still rather have the Irish playing in South Africa next summer.
But it is so much fun to bring up the whole "Freedom Fries" thing again.