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TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Instant replay technology was at the center of an intense controversy during Thursday’s crazy Cubs vs. Nationals playoff game. With Washington down 9-8 in the eighth inning, Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras tried to pick-off Nationals baserunner Jose Lobaton at first base. Lobaton was ruled safe, but the Cubs challenged. Watch the play here.
The replay shows Lobaton clearly beating the throw. But his right foot came off the base a split-second later while Anthony Rizzo still applied the tag. The umpires overturned the call, which ended the inning, and ultimately helped Chicago pull off the comeback win and end Washington’s season in a decisive Game 5.
— MLB (@MLB) October 13, 2017
Yes, it was technically the correct call. But is this what replay is for? Lobaton beat the throw — isn’t that what was in question?
The overuse of replay is officially killing sports. That was awful.
— Joe Curley (@vcsjoecurley) October 13, 2017
I care about the rule book but I don't agree with it when what happens is invisible to the real eye. https://t.co/EqUnQ4VwG8
— Jim Caple (@jimcaple) October 13, 2017
Only baseball would find a way to make modern technology arcane and stupid.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 13, 2017
Washington Post columnist Adam Kilgore put it best.
“But in a crucial moment, technology drastically shifted the game,” he wrote. “They got the call right. Baseball will have to grapple whether the call made it a better game.”
This reminds me of the debate over robotic umpires. Expect these conversations to continue as replay and camera technology become more integrated in sports.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke at our big GeekWire Summit this week. My colleague Todd Bishop kicked off the fireside chat by gifting Nadella with a new Kookaburra cricket ball — he likes holding one during conference calls. Nadella has a huge passion for cricket and talked about the lessons he’s learned from team sports.
- Love this Wall Street Journal investigation that discovered how Roger Goodell’s wife defended her husband on Twitter using a fake account.
- Lots of streaming news this week — the NBA inked a big deal with Rakuten to stream games in Japan; Alibaba will stream Pac-12 games in China; Facebook and Amazon could bid on Premier League rights.
- Detroit got a little help from the Michigan and Michigan State football coaches in its quest to land “Amazon HQ2.”
- The NBA is going all in with virtual reality and will stream every game this season in VR. Let’s see if the experience improves upon last year.
- Speaking of the NBA, Amazon Echo owners will have access to team-specific information from Alexa.
- Safeco Field’s field is getting its first-ever replacement — check it out here.
- Stadia Ventures, an accelerator for sports startups, just added four new companies to its program: Reely, The Relish, RockDaisy, and UPGRADED.
What to watch this weekend: Two MLB playoff games today, with Yankees vs. Astros on FOX, and Cubs vs. Dodgers on TBS. Chicago and L.A. battle again on Sunday … No. 2 Clemson and No. 8 Washington State both went down on Friday; more fun college football matchups on Saturday … Steelers vs. Chiefs and Packers vs. Vikings are the best NFL games on Sunday … the NBA season starts next Tuesday with an exciting Cavs vs. Celtics matchup.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! We’re mixing up the format for the newsletter, so please let me know what you think at email@example.com. — Taylor Soper