Mixed feelings surround tomorrow’s (August 28, 2008) change in the MLB’s rule policy toward instant replay, which is noticeably only geared towards disputes on home runs. Most proclaim that its too little of a change, that baseball should suck it up and admit to the new age of technology, and forget all the old stuff. And very few, including me, argue the other way, claiming that baseball should stick to the original rules. 

Why? Baseball is all about the old stuff — the crack of the bat, the outdoors, the spitting on the ground like no one is looking, the game of gentlemen, the slow pace, the rain delays, and yes — the pile of chewed gum at the side of the dugout. But most of all, my favorite part about Baseball is letting the umpires call the shots. This game isn’t just like any other sport; its America’s pastime, and it deserves to be recreated every time the ball-players step onto the field. 

Personally, I am a huge fan of the JumboTron and its counterparts including Cricket and Tennis’s Hawkeye. Trust me as a die-hard Lakers fan, I’d die without correct calls, instant replay or not. But although Baseball isn’t exactly my forte, I can go this far — as a sports fan, and an American — the one sport that is ours entirely should stay entirely as it was meant to be, and if that answer is “old” — then so be it.

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Having seen quite a lot of sporting events, and naturally, quite a lot of opening ceremonies, I must admit I was pretty amazed watching this year’s Olympic Opening ceremony. It was huge, involving thousands of people, but it was also very simple and artistic. From the blimp camera view, the shapes that the many thousands of humans made were breathtaking (my favorite was a bird which flapped its wings multiple times). The dancers were skilled and quick, and their overall performance was brilliantly choreographed. The fireworks were amazing, all their detail was displayed individually. The opening ceremony was (you could say) perfect, with amazing technology, great music, and risky acrobatics that was flawlessly executed via thousands of headphones, remote controls, and intense determination behind the scenes. 

But I didn’t like it.

Why? How could you just dismiss a flawless performance that took years of preparation and thousands of people to perform? In truth, it was perfect, but to me, and probably to many other people, it was expected. Let’s face it — the Chinese are master performers, they are as skilled, acrobatic, and dedicated as anyone else out there, but this would be their stereotypical performance. Just think about it. If someone told you that the Chinese were going to put on a performance for billions of people, and they could use all the people and money they pleased, this is what you would expect — and this is what we got. It was the best performance I have ever seen — and call me spoiled — but it wasn’t unique. It wasn’t different, it wasn’t simple, and it could have been. I enjoyed watching the ceremony, but I still think they could have done better. Better, but not with more people and money. Call me crazy, but I think the perfect Olympic Opening Ceremony should involve not involve dancers and acrobats, but all the athletes participating in the actual games. 

Let’s face it — to make it to the olympics, you don’t just need to be good at your sport, you need to be legendary. And everyone in the olympics is skilled, in shape, and experienced in entertainment. It would be exciting to have all the athletes’ best skills incorporated into the performance. It would be a fresh idea, it would be hilarious (some of the athletes would probably slip up or add some humor into it), and it would be great to see your favorite player perform. It would be like a professional dancing with the stars, and I think it would be entertaining for the viewers. Its just an opinion, but I think it would work.

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After the smoke cleared from the countless MLB and Tour De France news of athletes that tested positive to performance-enhancers, we all hoped sports would clean up its act. Did it? Ever since late 2004, players have been suspended, the sports press has had a field day, and we’ve all had our questions and accusations.

“Show me the test that says Bonds was clean!” 

“Explain to me how McGwire got away from the hearing without saying a word!”

On March 15, 2005, Mark McGwire and other big players including Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling survived an eleven and a half hour hearing where members of the courtroom blamed and ridiculed them as well as several players that weren’t invited, including Barry Bonds — but as expected, all stuck to their previous statements and swore they weren’t on steroids while on the field. One of those in the audience was Jose Canseco, author of the book “Juiced”  which claimed he had injected McGwire when they were teammates on the Oakland Athletics. But after those hearings and several other press conferences, baseball and its steroids issues gradually became fainter. Here we are in July 2008, right into the 08-09 season, and all you I can hear is loud crack of the bat, the thump of the ball hitting the glove and the crowd munching on those peanuts. Maybe baseball will never be the same as it was before it was juiced, and maybe it will never be perfect, but hopefully it will someday once be as it was meant to be…guys on a diamond playing some good ball.

Moving across the Atlantic, the Tour De France has had similar doping allegations thrown against them. Countless bikers have been accused, and tested positive for doping from blood tests. In 2006, Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes was accused of purposely giving performance-enhancing drugs to over 200 athletes, allegedly including two of the race’s favorites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, who were expelled before the race started. One of the most famous and newsworthy accusations was from an Italian trainer who claimed he saw Lance Armstrong use doping substances, but a 132 page report by Dutch investigators and the World Anti-Doping Agency report says otherwise. It completely excused Armstrong from any allegations against him and with that he was clean in many cycle-enthusiast’s minds. During this year’s Tour De France, the race has been totally clean so far and one biking legend is coming back to the sport. Greg LeMond, who was the first American to win the tour in 86, has made his first full visit back to the famous race in 18 years, claiming the sport has cleaned itself up more. 

Although sports will always have its big stories and its steroids, it looks like its slowly ambling on the right path back to redemption.