It’s funny how baseball gets picked on sometimes for being like the stodgy old coot on the front porch who never wants to see anything change. Fact is, when the sport does make a change, it usually gets it wrong.
It instituted the sport’s first full-time part-time player (designated hitter) and then compounded this mistake by sticking it in only one league. It foolishly tried to add meaning to the All-Star Game by giving the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. And, of course, the one time owners actually were unified and determined to change baseball’s economic system, they colluded. Not smart. Also not legal.
Well, baseball does need to change one thing. Now. It needs to add television replay to make up for the human mistakes of umpires.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night. The only guy who didn’t realize it was first base umpire Jim Joyce, who will not be remembered as fondly as James Joyce.
On what should have been the 27th out following the 27th Indians’ batter of the game, this is what happened: Jason Donald hit a ground ball to first base. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera fielded it to his right. He tossed the ball to Galarraga, who clearly got to the base before Donald. The side view at the end of the video below will show you just how close this play wasn’t.
Take a look:
People make mistakes, and to Joyce’s credit, he admitted his blunder: “I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”
But the problem is that baseball’s officiating crews have a history of being the most obstinate, arrogant and even obnoxious of the four sports’ officials.
Too many umps believe they are the show. This is not a new observation. It’s just too accurate and has gone on for too long.
Baseball umpires don’t want controversial replays shown on stadium video boards because it might make them look bad. They hated it when officials started using technology analysis of ball-and-strike calls with things like “QuecTec” and “Zone Evaluation.”
Football uses replay to correct mistakes all the time on the most crucial of plays: touchdowns and fumbles. Hockey uses replay to confirm (or negate) goals. Basketball uses replay to adjust time remaining on the play clock. Baseball is stuck in the era of the sundial.
If it takes an embarrassment like this to convince baseball to add replay for close calls — and force umpires to bury their egos — then at least the sport finally will have moved forward.
But Galarraga will still have to settle for throwing baseball’s most perfect imperfect game.
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