Yes, I took a cheap shot at umpire Jim Joyce, whose blown call turned Amrando Galarraga’s perfect game into a one-hitter. But that’s because I’m a jerk who has no pity or shame. The real ire should be directed not at Joyce, but Bud Selig, which has idiotically resisted replay against all technological advances and common sense.
Jim Joyce is considered one of the better umpires in Major League Baseball. We have no reason to believe Joyce would have sabotaged a perfect game to drive an agenda or for personal gain. There was absolutely no incentive for him to blow the call, unless he is secretly the world’s biggest masochist. After the game, he addressed the press (a pretty rare thing for any umpire to do under any circumstances) and sounded completely heartbroken about what had happened.
In other words, a top professional acting at in good faith and with the best of his abilities can still mess up very badly in a very big spot. And technology has advanced to the point where every single person watching the game immediately knows how badly he blew it. Which is why it makes less than zero sense to not have replay available in baseball.
In the absence of replay, everyone wonders how this injustice can be overturned while somehow retaining the game’s “purity”. Because going into a booth for one minute (which is how long it would have taken to overturn Joyce’s call) ruins the game’s magical mystical sepiatone Field of Dreams Wonderboy bullshit aura. By Bud Selig’s logic, a seatbelt ruins the mystique of driving, even if you’ll fly through the windshield without it.
What is truly “impure”: Having instant replay to correct officiating mistakes, like every other sport does, or asking the commissioner to wave a magic wand and declare that Galarraga pitched a perfect game, as if the blown call never happened?
Here’s how you institute replay:
- Issue one challenge per team per game. When used, the challenge is expended regardless of whether the team “wins” the challenge or not.
- Umpires have the right to refuse a challenge if it appears to be total BS. Otherwise, you’d have managers wasting them to allow a pitcher to warm up or just to be dicks.
- Challenges can only be used for fair/foul and safe/out calls. No strike calling.
You can argue on the particulars, of course. But after last night, can you tell me that replay would be any worse than what we have now? Because what we have now is essentially crossing our fingers and hoping everything works out okay. Why not just ask Santa Claus for no umpiring mistakes next year? It makes about as much sense.
However, in the interest of fairness, I felt I should have an opinion from the other side of the fence. So I point you to this op-ed longtime contributor Skitch Hanson wrote during last year’s playoffs, entitled “Making the Right Call on Wrong Calls”. Enjoy!