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Wednesday (Rivera, Mauer and the eye of the beholder) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball Updated: October 21, 2009 - 8:58 AM

There are iconic moments in sports that plenty of fans have seen several times. "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951; The Catch; The Immaculate Reception; We'll See You Tomorrow Night. Even just those words probably bring about memories of plays we've seen dozens of times as parts of highlight compilations.

These days, however, thanks to the twin miracles of TiVo and YouTube (and other similar products), virtually every moment in sports history can be recorded for posterity, analyzed, deconstructed, re-watched, cut up, manipulated, written over, edited and posted for the world to see, sometimes with an accompanying message that goes something like, "Did Player (or Team) X really do Action Y."

The two best recent examples, which we touched on yesterday: Joe Mauer and the sign stealing controversy, whereby a Maple Grove man noticed Joe performing actions from second base that he thought constituted signals to batter Jason Kubel as to what kind of pitch was coming. It kind of seems like forever ago, but it's barely been three weeks since that was posted. And it has almost 900,000 views right now. The other, of course, was Mariano Rivera and the spitball controversy.

We've probably seen each replay by now as often as we've seen Kirk Gibson's famous home run in 1988. Both involved instances of "this COULD be what happened." Both drew official reactions. The Rivera incident got the frame-by-frame treatment from MLB (Deadspin has a good look as well).

A generation ago, the Mauer and Rivera incidents wouldn't have been stories. The technology just wasn't there for the young adults of the 1970s. They were too busy obsessing about the things accessible to be obsessed about at the time -- like, for instance, whether confusing songs had hidden messages when played backwards.

YouTube is our new Stairway to Heaven (though we will not be so bold as to suggest where Mauer with his pure Twins and Rivera with his Evil Empire fit into that song analogy), enabling even the most level-headed sports fan to weigh in on a conspiracy theory.

Because you know sometimes words (and replays) have two meanings.

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