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Baltimore Grand Prix is Officially Official

We’ve known for several weeks that this was going to happen but today the press conference made it official. Baltimore is getting an IndyCar race in August, 2011 and for the four years following that.

This is obviously great news for me and anyone else who happens to be a motorsports fan. Much more importantly, it’s great news for the city. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: short of hosting a Super Bowl (not going to happen) or another All-Star game (I wish) this is about as big as it gets. IndyCar is the third most important series in the world, second-most in the US. It’s not NFL football but it’s a significant international sport. Baltimore takes a step up with this move and that’s awesome to see.

Kudos to the city officials and Baltimore Racing Development folks who brought this thing together. I just hope they do their homework, because in order for this to work they’ve got to nail the details.

20 comments to Baltimore Grand Prix is Officially Official

  • Travis

    can’t wait to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic for weeks on end so dozens upon dozens of suckers who can afford to blow $2,000 on a three-day weekend can make downtown even more unbearable than when the Red Sox or Yankees are in town

  • dan the man

    @ Travis:
    I don’t really get this. Who says anyone has to spend $2000? This thing is good for Baltimore and it’s fucking cool.

  • Travis

    @ dan the man:
    guessing you don’t live IN the city or have to commute through/to it

  • neal s

    @ Travis: Yeah, man, I’m not sure where you’re coming from here. I get the inconvenience angle and I even agree to an extent. From what I’ve gathered, though, streets don’t actually close until the event starts. I’m sure there will be some issues in the weeks leading up to it but we’re not talking about shutting down the city for 2-3 weeks. My sense is that it’s more like one rough week.

    As for the idea of spending $2k, where’s that coming from? I don’t know what the ticket packages will look like but I imagine you’d have to work pretty hard to drop that kind of coin.

    There’s no question that this event will create some difficulties for city residents. I believe it’s worth it for three reasons:

    1. The obvious direct economic benefit (tourism and commerce).
    2. The broader benefit of raising Baltimore’s profile and advancing the notion that this is a world-class place capable of hosting a world-class event.
    3. Frankly, as Dan pointed out, it’s cool. No reason to gloss that over.

    I live in the city and I’ll be one of the people who has to work around this. But you know what? We’ve got over a year of notice. Plenty of time to modify travel/commuting plans accordingly. Even if I didn’t already know which back streets to take I’d have plenty of time to figure it out.

    On top of that, the 2.5 miles of road that comprise the circuit will be paved and/or resurfaced to a level we’d never have seen without this race. If you’ve driven those roads (as I have) then you’ve got to at least be happy about that.

    Meanwhile, in Birdland…

    Yeah. The less said the better.

  • neal s

    To expand on and be fair to Travis’ point, I’m sure he’s far from alone. I’d bet that a lot of Baltimore residents read this news and thought immediately about the potential convenience issues. That’s totally reasonable.

    I think it’s partially due to a lack of understanding. This region lacks a motorsport culture. There are NASCAR races in both Virginia and Delaware but all we have in Maryland are small tracks. In terms of open-wheel racing I’m not aware of anything around here.

    I should probably write a longer main-page post about this, but the short version is that I hope people will come to understand that the IRL is a fairly big deal. Auto racing is a huge sport, and IRL is the third-largest player. F1 rules the roost internationally, NASCAR rules domestically. After that you have IndyCar. Drivers like Helio Castroneves and Danica Patrick (among others) are global stars. In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that Castroneves is a bigger star worldwide than anyone in the NFL.

    I hope that the average Maryland sports fan will be willing to give this thing a chance. It’s different and unusual, sure, but I honestly believe that if the City and Baltimore Racing Development do this right it will be a huge benefit to both Baltimore and the region as a whole.

  • Andrew

    Oh hey, you know, you can’t ruin baseball by taking away the human element of the game. It would ruin it.

  • @ Travis:
    Wait…your name is Travis and you’re NOT into auto racing?!

  • Dan H

    Can we talk about instant replay in baseball for a minute? this debate that will surely gain steam after last night.

    DON’T DO IT. Games are long enough, slow enough as it is. If Mike Hargrove was “the human rain delay”, then instant replay is “the legal rain delay”. I can understand the use on homeruns A: cuz they are a game-changer like none other and B: because those calls tend to get fouled up (pun intended) more than others.

    I borderline hate instant replay in football because those games are long enough and you sit through HUNDREDS OF EFFING COMMERCIALS even without it. But it does have more of a place in that game than baseball because there is so much going on on each play and because a lot plays happen in a mass of bodies.

    In baseball the vast majority of calls are black and white, obviously. your going to need instead replay on .5% of all plays and you know it would get used on way more. You have an ump standing right there with no obstruction to his view. Let’s just trust them to do their jobs. I’ve never seen a blown call on such a grand scale as happened last night and i’m not sure i ever will again. It’s one of those freak things that go down in baseball lore. It’s a ball bouncing off of Canseco’s head for a homerun.

    Instant replay will more often be used as a device to simply halt play by managers. Interrupt momentum; buy time for relievers to warm up; etc. Are we going to start reviewing balls and strikes?? Please say it aint so.

    Also, for the record, I just want to say that yes, Jim Joyce blew the call. Donald was out, yes. Perfect game blown, yes. But.. it was closer than everyone is making it out to be. I’ve seen the replay a hundred times and when they pause it, it looks like he’s two feet from the bag but I don’t think Gallarga’s foot is on the bag yet and the ball’s not even all the way in his glove. It’s kind of an optical illusion thing with the camera shot.

  • dan the man

    My expert tip would be to leave earlier for work. Plus, hey, the city gets free re-paving on the race track.

    Alright so following this inevitable sweep in NY today, and coming off of a double-sweep starting in TOR, DT has to get canned, right? The team is well on it’s way to another 2-16 stretch and they’ve scored like 5 runs in their last 51 innings or something like that. The team is crazy bad. Crazy, crazy bad. I have to say, though, that I’m warming to that #1 pick next year. Wizards and O’s both picking #1!

    The only way DT doesn’t get canned is if Andy has made up his mind that he’s going to do it at the All-Star break when DT would have at least had a chance with (maybe) Brian Roberts and Simon back. Maybe Johnson and Reimold if he’s extra lucky. But those are huge if’s and a stretch logically anyway. If you’re gonna do it, just do it now.

    It’s getting real ugly again and that whole “playing .500 since 2-16” is definitely out the window at this point. Gotta do something. I’m basically only checking box scores at this point until there’s a sign of life.

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man: I can see a reality where Trembley is just given the whole year but told “It’s over”. I’d suspect that MacPhail doesn’t want another interim manager, not from the current crop of possiblities. I’m nearing the mindset (because I don’t actually watch the entire games much anymore) of just saying “Fuck it. Try to lose as many as possible. I want that number one draft pick!”, so I’m back to saying that whatever happens to Dave is irrelevant to my world. I’ve punted.

    @ Dan H: You bring up all of these potential issues as if there’s absolutely no way to implement instant replay without all of these extra hazards and you are wrong. If we, the viewing audience, can know that a call was blown within 5 seconds, why can’t the guys on the field, too? This is 2010. This is the future. We have that technology.

    Any argument against expanded instant replay is an argument that says “What happened last night is good. It is baseball. It is why I love this game”. And, again, you are so very, very wrong if you feel that way.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:
    I can never decide on the replay thing. I think maybe I want it, but I’m not gung-ho about it either way. I think it would be interesting though, and why the hell not?

    A different question floating around is, of course, should Selig overrule it? It would be unprecedented so obviously, no, he will not overrule it. But in lieu of replay, should he? Again, regardless of if he “should”, I think it would be infinitely interesting if he did. And I think, whatever brings renewed attention/interest to the game I am in favor of at this point. Neither replay nor an unprecedented Bud Selig decision would ruin the game of baseball and it would instead bring greater interest and debate and make it all more fun.

    But that’s where I’m at in this lost season of Orioles baseball. Just make it more fun. Replay, new manager, Arrieta, a trade, anything to make this season worth following.

  • @ Andrew:

    I’m all in favor of instant replay in baseball. Anything to slow down the break-neck pace.

  • Dan H

    @ Andrew:
    Look, my problem is slowing the game down. If we all can know that a call was blown as soon as it happens then have the rest of the umps conference and reverse it. If fans in the upper deck can see it then definately another ump did too. Simple. It takes over 5 mins to review a homerun. They have to call NEW YORK to do it. Why? If we have the technology.

    I don’t think what happened last night is good. I really don’t see how you made that jump other than to just play devil’s advocate. Do you disagree that manager’s would use it to their advantage just like they do when the catcher goes out to talk and THEN the manager comes in to make a pitching change? It wouldn’t need to be used that often and my fear is that it would certainly be overused. My point was against unnecessary delays. Underline unnecessary delays.

    Andrew wrote:

    Any argument against expanded instant replay is an argument that says “What happened last night is good. It is baseball. It is why I love this game”. And, again, you are so very, very wrong if you feel that way.

    Is this statement really needed? It’s rude. It’s an obtuse generalization that is false. Ease up, dude.

  • Joe D. (formerly Random Dude)

    Haven’t commented in ages, but still read a good bit.
    @ Andrew: I couldn’t agree with your take on this replay stuff more. “If we, the viewing audience, can know that a call was blown within 5 seconds, why can’t the guys on the field, too?” EXACTLY! Go with the college football system. Put another umpire up in a booth. They initiate the challenges (I don’t think it should be the job of the manager/head coach to tell the ump/ref he’s wrong). Train them to only challenge game-changing plays and/or plays that are clearly wrong. Dan H, you said that 0.5% of plays should be challenged. Train these booth umps to identify these 0.5% of plays then. Honestly, if there’s a guy in the booth, he should be able to look over every play in 5 seconds or less and change a play without slowing up the game. That 0.5% of plays that could require a slower look, give them a 2 minute time limit. No way this would add more than a few minutes to a game.

    The entire point of the umpire is to get the call right. We can put that “human element” crap to rest now. No one goes to a game to see the umpire (except maybe the umpire’s family). They are not part of the game. They are trained to not be part of the game. Get the call right, period.

    “This is 2010. This is the future. We have that technology.
    Any argument against expanded instant replay is an argument that says ‘What happened last night is good. It is baseball. It is why I love this game’.” – YES! YES! OH MY GOD, YES! I think you read a an email I sent to my buddies earlier this morning where I pretty much said this word for word.

    Dan H, will we ever see a blown call on the 27th out of a perfect game again? Probably not. But you said yourself, that the call, while blown, was closer than people are making it out to be. That leads me to believe that you’ve seen a call blown in a worse way on a lesser scale. I know I have. And we’ll be sure to continue seeing a variety of blown calls, until it can be fixed. Will these blown calls happen in a 10 run blowout, in a one run game in the playoffs, or to end a perfect game bid? No way to tell. Why risk it?

  • neal s

    @ Andrew: Yeah, man, Dan H is right. Relax a little. It’s all good.

    I’m hesitant to even bother adding my two cents on this but I think it’s kind of silly to think that with instant replay comes 100% accuracy. NFL officials blow calls on replay every weekend. Just because you add a machine doesn’t mean you’ve taken away the human.

  • Andrew

    All I’m saying is we can do way better than what we have now using technology, and I have yet to hear a valid argument against instant replay. If umpires are 95% right (which seems more or less accurate to me), and we want 100% right (which…of course we do, right?), and umpires plus instant replay gets us to 99% right, then why not?

    Dan, I didn’t mean to be rude, and I apologize. But I’m fired up because this really should never have happened. In this era of technology there’s really no excuse not to give Jim Joyce a safety net or Armando Galarraga a perfect game. The “Human element” robbed us all blind last night, and that got me white hot (in a way the Orioles just can’t these days). So I apologize for the offense, but not the emotion behind it.

    But, honestly, what arguments are there against more instant replay? It’ll slow the game down? How? If you’re worried about managers “abusing” it somehow, change the rules so that managers can’t abuse it. Simple as that. If whatever system you have in mind has serious flaws, change that system. You can’t really believe that there is just no way to use cameras and technology to get us closer to 100%, can you?

  • sci

    On the plus side, Galarraga’s reaction to the blown call was truly admirable. I immediately love this guy…


  • Mike R

    Joe D. (formerly Random Dude) wrote:

    Train them to only challenge game-changing plays and/or plays that are clearly wrong.

    Whats to say what is game changing? If this happens in the 1st inning, not so much a big deal. But he pitches perfect the rest of the way, then all of a sudden that play in the 1st is game changing…after the fact. You can\’t judge whats game changing and whats not, unless it involves the final out of a game, or walk off play of some sort.

    I would only be in favor of replay in 1 way. Give each manager 1 challenge. Use it whenever, except for balls and strikes. They dont even need to go into a booth. Most stadiums I believe have these big huge video boards in the outfield. After a challege, the stadium can cue up the tape for the entire audience to see, so the ump can just turn around, look at one, maybe 2 angles, make the call, and move on. The games are nearly 3 hours, whats 2 more minutes, or 30 more seconds or give a kid a perfect game. But to have replay on every close play would be absurd. We dont need to have a replay meeting 8 times a game.

  • Joe D.

    @ Mike R:
    Fair enough. Game changing was a poor choice of words. I personally believe that NCAA football has the best review system. According to Wikipedia (I know, not always accurate), they review a play when it meets three criteria:
    There is reasonable evidence to believe an error was made in the initial on-field ruling.
    The play is reviewable.
    Any reversal of the on-field ruling, which can only result from indisputable video evidence, would have a direct, competitive impact on the game.

    This criteria uses similar, vague language: “direct, competitive impact on the game”. I think they do a pretty good job of not overdoing the reviews. Now I realize this is comparing apples and oranges. How many average plays are in a college football game versus how many plate appearances are in a baseball game (not to mention, taken to an extreme, there could be an infinite number of fair/foul reviews in a single plate appearance). But I believe that, given the proper training, that there wouldn’t be around 8 challenges a game. I think it would be more likely to have one or two. And, then, this system would not add major time to the game.

    I do like the idea of giving the managers 1 challenge per game better than having nothing. I do have 2 problems with this system though. First, I don’t think the manager should be in a position to question a call made by the umpire. I think that should be done by another umpire in a booth. I feel the same way in the NFL, though it’s better than no challenges. Second, would the manager get another challenge if his first review is right? What if the umpire screws up twice in a game? I don’t think it will happen that often, but I don’t think the manager should be penalized for a correct review.

  • Dan H

    Alright, all good points. The ump in a booth thing is a good idea. I don’t watch much college football, so really my only experience with instant replay is the NFL, which imho is imperfect to put it mildly. My thinking was that it would simply be the homerun review expanded to include calls on the bases. Can someone tell me why they need to call New York to get a call right? Why in hockey they need to call Toronto? I don’t get it.

    The other part of my concern was that while we can agree to a certain extent that replay properly introduced, monitored, and used, would be a good thing for the game, it wouldn’t be given the structure of MLB. What I’m trying to say is that the NFL moves so fluidly in rule changes almost to a fault. One strange occurrence in December or January (i.e. tuck rule) and we have a new rule next September. MLB is not such a well, oiled machine. I’m afraid they would muck up the obvious, simple solution and take too long to get it right.