MLB: Just add instant replay already
So, last night, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers threw a perfect game. Except it wasn’t a perfect game, because with two outs in the bottom of the ninth — you couldn’t write fiction this implausible — first-base umpire Jim Joyce blew the call. And Joyce admitted after the game that he blew the call. So what should have been the 21st perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball is instead the most infamous one-hitter in the history of Major League Baseball.
Wow. Just, wow.
Today, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said he wouldn’t reverse the blown call because, apparently, that would open up a can of worms that would bring the sport of Major League Baseball to a grinding halt. Or something.
I don’t know what kind of precedent going in and overturning a blown call like this would do to the commissioner’s office. It might open some kind of floodgate; fair enough. But it’s time — far past time — to just bring instant replay into the MLB in a real way. I mean, come on already.
For whatever reason, it seems instant replay has always been anathema to the league. I personally don’t understand it at all. You can come up with a replay system that makes sense without compromising the Untarnished Reverence of the Game of Baseball. And, yes, please read thick sarcasm into that description.
Personally, I find the arguments against instant replay absurd. Let’s take a look at them.
1. It will slow down the game.
Slow it down? Seriously? It’s fucking baseball, for Chrissakes. If that’s your argument, just concede right now. What’s another three minutes to a 180-minute game?
There are any number of ways you can legislate a replay system to make it go quickly. Limit the number of replays per game per team. Institute some sort of deterrent for frivolous challenges. (Seriously, how many plays in a baseball game are really that obviously wrong as to require a challenge to a call?)
Frankly, I don’t see what’s so wrong with the NFL’s challenge system. Limit the challenges, attach some rules to the situations where they can be used, and put the burden of proof on the challenger, such that the replay has to overrule the call on the field conclusively. What’s so hard about that?
2. Baseball is a human game played by humans. Humans make mistakes, and we don’t want to take the human element out of the game.
Adding instant replay to baseball will not take the human element out of the game. You need to explain to me how fixing a mistake is somehow removing the human decision-making process. It’s still a game played by humans and called by humans. I would not, for example, support a replay system when it comes to calling balls and strikes. That’s a judgment call by the home-plate umpire. Always has been, always will be, and should be.
But plays at any of the bases or at the plate that are clearly wrong, or catches that are clearly not catches should have a chance at being corrected.
Major League Baseball is a high-stakes, high-money game. The fans want the correct call. I don’t see how that takes away the human element.
3. It would compromise the integrity of the game.
If by “integrity” you mean “preserving pointless mistakes that could be corrected with clear-cut evidence,” then okay, sure.
What’s the point of having plays that are obviously wrong stay wrong instead of being corrected? Because it’s tradition? The way we’ve always done it? Because umpires are revered and infallible? Except that they’re clearly not?
Please. The technology is there. USE IT.
I would think integrity would mean getting it right, not insisting that we cling to old-fashioned tradition for whatever reason, even if it means keeping a wrong decision wrong and in this extreme case, denying a perfect game to a pitcher.
I would think that the umpires would welcome a situation where their botched calls could be corrected. Granted, Joyce’s call last night is about as extreme a case as we’re likely to get. But don’t you think he’d welcome the opportunity to have instant replay wipe the call off the books and fix it if that were an option?
A couple years ago, after a number of blown calls, MLB instituted instant replay in the case of incorrectly ruled home runs. Talk about an underwhelming and under-reaching rule change. And, boy, the league sure made a big deal about it. But let’s be real; it was a joke — a bone thrown to make the pro-replay people shut up.
Stop being wimps, MLB. Step up and figure out a way to correct incorrect calls instead of burying your heads in the sand and ignoring this issue year after year.