Last night’s near-perfect game, which John wrote about here, is leading to calls for the expanded use of instant replay. But such a change would make baseball games even longer and more difficult to watch than they already are.
Ironically, the calls are being generated by a game in which the blown call had no effect on the outcome (unlike two horrible ball-and-strike decisions that cost the Washington Nationals a pair of games recently). The main effect of last night’s call was that Armando Galarraga pitched “perfectly” to 28 hitters instead of 27.
But what about the “injustice” (strange word to apply in this context to a sporting event, but one I heard several times this morning) to Galarraga? To be sure, he won’t be on the list of official perfect games. However, his near-perfect game will be remembered long after most perfect games have been forgotton. For example, I’ve already forgotten who pitched the second perfect game of this season not long ago.
Finally, Galarranga experienced no more “injustice” by virtue of umpiring error than other pitchers experience when a fielding error spoils a perfect game. Of course, instant replay can correct umpire (but not player) error. I just don’t think it’s worth the damge such a change in the rules would inflict on the game.
UPDATE: John Miller, the resident Tiger fan at NRO’s Corner, reports:
The Tigers started play at 1:05 pm today, with umpire Jim Joyce (the guy who blew the perfect-game call last night) scheduled to call balls and strikes. Joyce came onto the field with his crew, holding back tears. There’s probably nobody more upset about what happened than him. Galarraga brought out the Tigers lineup card and shook hands with Joyce and the others gathered at home plate, in a place where all could see. Standing ovation from the crowd.
What happened last night was unfortunate. Everyone knows it. Galarraga and Joyce have handled this with an enormous amount of grace and dignity. An e-mailer pointed out that it’s almost a blessing that Joyce messed up the call, because now everyone can see how grown ups are supposed to behave.