The week in review – Bud Selig, speeding tickets without radar, Idol winner’s debut

4 06 2010

Today, I’m going to try something different. There has been so much going on, I’m going to comment on a few of the news items that have popped up in the last few days.

1) Bud Selig refuses to overturn ump’s call that cost pitcher a perfect game.

For those of you who aren’t big sports fans, here’s the situation. With two outs in the ninth inning of a game Wednesday night between the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers, Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga was throwing a perfect game. That means no batter for the Indians had reached base by getting a hit, walk or error. The 27th and what should-have-been-final batter for the Indians was Jason Arnold. Arnold hit a grounder to the right side of the infield that was fielded by first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who tossed to Galarraga covering first base. At first glance, it appeared that the throw had easily beaten Arnold to the base, giving Galarraga a perfect game. But seconds later, first base umpire Jim Joyce emphatically signaled that Arnold was safe. Galarraga proceeded to retire the next batter, finishing the game with an unofficial 28-out perfect game, and an official one-hit shutout. Immediately after the game, Joyce admitted that he had blown the call and the game should have ended with Galarraga having a perfect game.

Some have called for Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to overturn Joyce’s call and officially give Galarraga a perfect game. As much as I feel Galarraga’s pain at being robbed of his place in history, I don’t think Selig should step in at this point and change the end of the game. Baseball does not have instant replay for those type of plays, so the umpire’s call is all they have to go on. For the commissioner to step in now would detract from the game. The game is based on thousands of human judgement calls. Balls and strikes. Safe or out. If baseball wants to change the rules to allow instant replay for similar plays in the future, then they should do that. But nothing can change how the game ended now.

I applaud Joyce for coming forward and apologizing. He has been a class act all the way. Galarraga also has been very classy in his handling. And while Selig’s decision may not be popular, I think he has done the best he could given the circumstances.

2) Supreme Court ruling allows Ohio officers to guess your speed.

 According to a recent Supreme Court ruling, police officers in Ohio can now use their own educated guesses to issue speeding tickets. Even more surprising, those guesses will hold up in court. The Supreme Court’s ruling allows an officer’s speed estimate only if the officer is trained by the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy (or a similar academy) and has experience gauging speeds.

This seems ludicrous. In the past, officers could stop based on a guess, most courts required more proof than that if the ticket was challenged. Now, no radar reading or comparing speeds is necessary. Just a guess.

How can you argue with a guess? What if I have my cruise control set on 60 in a 55 mph zone, and a cop stops me for speeding? In the past, at least if you were given a ticket based on a radar gun reading, you felt like you probably deserved it. But now, a cop can stop anyone and all the courts can do is trust that he is accurate in his guess. And honest. What if, let’s just say for an example, I have a personal disagreement with a police officer. Then a week or so later, he sees me drive past him while he is on duty and he decides to pull me over and give me a speeding ticket. How could I possibly fight that?

I’m not saying all police officers are dishonest, untrustworthy individuals. But in any occupation, you will find people who are. So statistically speaking, it stands to reason that there are some officers who would hold a grudge and abuse their authority in such a manner as I described above.

Our courts are supposed to protect us, from each other but also from the government overstepping its bounds. Speed limits are in place to keep the roads safer. Lower speeds usually equate to safer roads. So letting police enforce those laws is a good thing. However, our system of justice is also based on evidence and due process. How can there be any due process when the only evidence is a subjective ruling made in the mind of an individual police officer? This is “evidence” that cannot be examined by a defense attorney or subjected to further tests.

This ruling seems to go against everything our country is supposed to stand for. I guess it’s just one more step down the slippery slope of eroding freedom.

3) Latest American Idol debuts to less than stellar numbers.

Last week, Lee DeWyze was named the 9th winner of  “American Idol,” much to the surprise of most of America. Ohio native Crystal Bowersox was the odds-on favorite to take the crown. However, the former paint salesman from Illinois apparently received more votes and is the current American Idol. But the glitter already is starting to fade off his crown.

According to numbers released Thursday by SoundScan, his debut single  (a cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day”) had only 95,000 downloads, good for 12th place on this week’s digital charts. Compare this with the numbers from the last two “Idol” winners.

Last year’s “American Idol” winner, Kris Allen, sold 134,00 digital downloads of the original song “No Boundaries” in its first week, entering at No.4. The 2008 champion, David Cook, moved 236,000 downloads and grabbed the No.1 digital spot with his single “The Time of My Life”, Billboard said. 

This dismal news follows the lowest-rated season finale for “Idol” since 2002. Nielsen data showed 24.2 million people tuned in for the finale. For the season, “Idol” lost 9 percent of its audience from 2009, but it remained the most-watched show on TV.

A few weeks ago, I said in my blog that the powers-that-be at “American Idol” should consider putting the show to sleep. This is just more evidence that the show is fading in its influence and its ability to create stars.

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