It must be limited
If ever there was a convenient argument for expanding baseball's limited instant replay system, the blown call by umpire Jim Joyce that prevented Armando Galarraga's perfect game is it. But you have to look beyond one gross miscarriage of umpiring justice to make a decision of such scope.
Making video replay available regardless of the situation would slow down a sport that already is losing young fans because it moves too slowly. Expanding the circumstances in which replay can be used makes sense — with a limited challenge system — but that might not have prevented this outcome.
Joyce was adamant before seeing the replay that he got it right, so with the current system to judge home runs, the crew could have denied the request for a replay. Can't imagine that happening in this situation, but who ever would have imagined this situation in the first place?
Just get it right
Get it right.
Whether it's an MLB game or a biddy game down the street, that's what you want umpires to do.
Little leagues don't have the money or technology, but MLB certainly does. So why not have a fifth umpire seated next to a video screen making sure the obvious blown calls are overturned?
We're not talking every call. You'll still have those bang-bang plays that could go either way, and certainly we don't want ball/strike calls reviewed because no two umps have the same strike zone.
But those who use tradition as the reason for not relying on replay should ask Jim Joyce if he cares about tradition today. Or would he have preferred help in getting the biggest call of his career right?
Behind the times
On Wednesday night, two dramatic games followed their sports' rules:
1. In the Stanley Cup finals, two potential Flyers goals were reviewed by instant replay. One play was correctly called a goal, the other (in overtime) was correctly ruled not a goal.
2. In baseball, an ump blew a perfect game by the Tigers' Armando Galarraga. No review. No replay. Just one big, botched call.
Football, a more random game, has had instant replay for years. Basketball uses it selectively. Baseball is so behind the times most replays aren't even put on scoreboard screens. So fans are penalized for attending games on a daily basis. And sometimes, like Wednesday, history is taken away from a player. Blame the ump? Blame the people running the game first.
Imperfect is OK
Dave van Dyck
No. No. And no.
The exhilarating moments — and the embarrassing ones — are part of the history that gives baseball a unique place in our lives. The lore is passed through the generations, grandpas retelling tales of special moments to wide-eyed kids. Baseball is a human game played on real grass (mostly), a game where errors are still a vital statistic. It is not a game of do-overs. If a player drops a throw to spoil a perfect game, he doesn't get a second chance.
Could — should? — replay show whether Milt Pappas' pitch that ruined his perfect game really was a ball, as Bruce Froemming ruled. Getting it right — as some like to call replay use — isn't always as important as getting that baseball is not a perfect game.