Monday, April 21, 2014

If only we had replay review for our lives

A version of this column first appeared in The Dallas Morning News and on Please check out the site.
It’s pro baseball season again, and starting this year, the umpires don’t always get the final say. Replays can now be used to review questionable calls, such as a close play at first base, a tight tag at home or someone eating an entire Choomongous in the stands.

Actually, that last one doesn’t require review. If anyone goes solo on the Rangers’ new ballpark offering, a two-foot-long barbecue sandwich named after outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, that’s clearly a bad call. Prepare for some serious seventh-inning strain.

Other situations in our lives, however, could benefit from instant replay. And now that baseball has joined the other major sports in using replay review, it seems like a good time to consider the wondrous possibilities of our own personal replay reviews.

I know, it’s a pretty sci-fi hypothetical. But haven’t we all wished that we could apply the indispensable computer “undo” command to our lives? Even if we couldn’t use it for dramatic changes, such as saving someone’s life, what if we could at least review and undo our questionable actions of the previous 24 hours?

Well, it's colorful.
I’ll start with this:

Personal replay review would certainly take some of the boom out of the tattoo-removal industry. There’s nothing wrong with a well-planned tattoo, but an undo function would lead to a sharp drop in biceps cartoon characters, lower-back butterflies and inspirational messages that you notice are misspelled while standing in line at the water park.
* * *

The replay review doesn’t even need to stretch 24 hours. Simply getting to roll our lives back 10 minutes for a second look would save us a lot of pain and embarrassment.

Ah yes, upon further review, I see the date went bad when I said “I usually don’t go for your type.” And right there, when I was going on that political diatribe on Facebook, oh I wish I could take that back. And right there, if I could only go back and silence my phone before it interrupted the job interview with a “Sexy and I Know it” ringtone.

You know those times when you wave to someone and then realize you don’t know the person? Personal replay review can scrub it away. You can do the same for the moments when you aren’t sure whether to shake hands or hug and end up in an unaffectionate half-hug.

I’d like to erase the awkward scene when I was at a mall play area with my kids and another parent started talking to me. As I was responding, the mom looked to the side and I realized she was talking on the phone. Something like that has happened to me twice, actually. I really, really need personal replay review.
* * *

More significantly, we could review the times when our emotions get the best of us. We’re an impulsive bunch, and with personal replay review, we would have less regrets. We would avoid the mistakes that hurt family and friends and spare ourselves from the times when we aren’t ourselves, such as when parents begin fighting at a little-league baseball game.

That would be a painful replay to watch. But if you had the chance to review it, to get a third-person view of your behavior, you would see a picture that’s clearer than any high-definition television. You might never need personal replay review again.
But of course, this is all hypothetical sci-fi. When I was in third grade, I was promised that we would have flying cars in the future, and I’m still stuck on the ground – and in traffic. Personal replay review can’t even get on the runway because of a pesky little thing called the space-time continuum.

So I think we’re just going to have to make the calls in real time, just like the umpires. They can go to the review, but we’ll have to live with the consequences.

That’s why it’s best to take your time on the really tough calls.

And when eating the Choomongous.

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