By Jeremy Clements
(St. Louis – June 3, 2010)
Last night Detroit Tigers fans were treated to an imperfect game. Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga sat down the first twenty-six batters he faced before a horribly blown call by first base umpire Jim Joyce cost him a perfect game. Today fans are shouting for more extensive use of replay in Major League Baseball. I think they may be overreacting a bit.
Now, you probably think I’m insane but just listen for a second before you send me off to the asylum. This isn’t the first missed call we’ve ever had in baseball. In fact, I would be willing to bet that if this call had been made in the 1st or 2nd inning of the game, we wouldn’t be talking about it. This was the final out of the game. That is the only reason we are talking about this today.
This blown call will be used as “Exhibit A” when the discussion for expanding replay in baseball. However expanding replay isn’t the answer. The use of replay in baseball is just a cover up. It isn’t really a solution to the bigger problem. That problem being that the quality of umpiring in the game has diminished greatly. Furthermore, there are no rewards for an umpire doing his job well and there are no punishments for an ump doing a horrible job at making calls. If you expand replay to include these types of bang-bang plays you are opening up the discussion for everything from fair/foul to even balls and strikes.
I realize we as fans want the calls to be right. After all, that is what should matter most and let’s face it, we do have the technology to get the calls right. Baseball is the only major sport that hasn’t adapted to the 21st century when it comes to technology. Many want baseball to join up and expand replay but that won’t solve anything. If anything it could completely remove the human element from the game.
I think one of the most fascinating things that is getting overlooked today is that both Galarraga and Joyce were adults about it. In the clubhouse after the game Joyce came in and apologized to both Galarraga and Tigers manger Jim Leyland.
Joyce was the first to put the blame on himself. Before showering or anything after the game he took at look at the replay, apologized to the players and manager and then said the following: “I just missed the damn call. This isn’t a call, this is a history call and I kicked the [expletive] out of it. And there is nobody that feels worse than I do. I took a perfect game away from that kid who worked his [expletive] off all night. It was the biggest call of my career, and I missed it. I don’t blame a single person for a thing they said to me. If it was me I would’ve said the same thing.”
Galarraga could have blown up. He could have shown up the umpires, he could have shouted and screamed at the cameras but he did not instead he waiting until Joyce apologized and then spoke his mind. “You don’t see an umpire after the game come out and say, ‘Hey, let me tell you I’m sorry,” Galarraga said. “He felt really bad. He didn’t even shower.”
Even after the blown call the Tigers manager is against the expansion of replay. “This is the human element of the game, it’s going to remain that way forever — I think it should. I’m sure somebody’s going to say ‘If they had a replay on that play the kid would have had a perfect game.’ Somebody will say something like that but not me. That’s the human element and it’s a good element because the umpires to a great job, there’s no question about that. They’re a whole lot right more than they are wrong and they make some unbelievable calls on bang-bang plays. You’d be surprised how many replays you look at and you thought they were wrong and they’re right.”