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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Earlier in the week there was a video circulating of Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto getting a walk on a 3-2 count. If you are familiar with baseball, then you know that a walk takes four balls and not three. The controversy is that Votto got the third ball called and simply walked to first base with no one stopping him. The umpires never called him back and the opposing team never said a word.

While it is difficult to understand how a professional baseball umpire could allow such a thing to happen, what were even more puzzling were the reactions of people online that watched the video. I watched the video and there is no denying that the video shows six pitches thrown. Three of those pitches were strikes (one was a ball that was fouled off) and the other three were balls. Unless the video was edited, which I am not saying it wasn’t, then Votto walked on a 3-2 count after only six pitches.

Despite the video evidence, there were scores of people who insisted that there were seven pitches thrown and that the fourth ball was evident in the video. I can assure you that the fourth ball is not evident in the video at all. Someone even tried to rationalize it by saying that perhaps one of the strikes was mistakenly taken as a ball. But since the umpire only called one strike and the other two were automatic strikes (swing and a miss and a foul ball) then the idea that there was any kind of misinformation from the umpire is impossible.

Joey Votto walked on three balls and the video clearly shows it. Yet there are arguments brewing online as to what can and cannot be seen on the video. In some instances, there are large groups of people taking positions that are simply not supported by the video at all. After reading a few of these groups of comments, I became seriously concerned about a lot of things.

If we are all looking at the same video of undeniable evidence and there are groups of people making assertions that the video simply does not support, then how can we ever hope to agree on anything? What about the videos of incidents outside of sports that affect the lives of people all over the world? Are we going to take videos that clearly show event A and insist that we are actually watching event B?

There is a lot about the public’s reaction to this simple baseball video that really bothers me. I never realized that people were so insistent that their side of an argument is right that they will ignore the facts, even when those facts are presented in an HD video. I am not naïve enough to think that everyone always tells the truth and that liars never prosper, but I would like to think that clear evidence is clear evidence. Apparently, the truth is always in the eye of beholder.

I understand that there are always two sides to every story, but when you are shown a blue card then you cannot deny that it is blue. You cannot look at the blue card and say “Well, it could be yellow” because then everything about our society starts to break down.

This is not the first time I have seen a picture or watched a video and have been absolutely astounded at how many interpretations there have been to a clearly-defined event. But I guess this is the first time that I have seen so many people take a side in an argument that should not exist and then get extremely defensive of that argument.

Maybe this is an especially bad case because it is sports and people always get emotional about sports. But I would like to think that a video of a crime being committed is a little more important than a sports video. When we see the police tackle a man to the ground who was not threatening the police in any way, why are we all not seeing the same thing? Why is there room for debate with images and videos that seem so cut and dry?

I remember the good ol’ days when a picture was worth a thousand words and all of those words could stand up in court. But these days, it seems like people can develop any interpretation they want of any video and cause the divide between the American people to get wider and wider.

Joey Votto walked on three balls. If you see it any other way, then I would really like to try and understand what you are looking at. Maybe it is just a matter of altering our point of view. Maybe some people are altering their reality and that is probably not a very good sign for the future.

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and a guy who knows the basic rules of baseball. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him an email at Check out his drive-in discussion group on Facebook and like it today!

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