What's that old saying?
Things will get worse before they get better?
Or is it things will get so unbelievably bad, that all they can possibly do is get better?
Thanks to umpire Jim Joyce, and Major League Baseball's unwillingness to join the rest of the sports landscape in the 21st century (where instant replay has been around for some time), the latter question seems like a pretty good fit to describe the current state of baseball.
But, believe it or not, June 2, 2010—the day Detroit Tigers pitcher Armondo Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game—might be remembered as the day Major League Baseball started to turn things around, and MLB higerups took action to make baseball a fan friendly sport.
Well, let's hope that's how this day is remembered.
Joyce's call was beyond bad, and it happened in the worst possible situation (well things could have been worse if we hadn't seen two other perfect games over the previous 24 days). But we're all baseball fans, and we've all seen calls that bad—maybe not in that kind of situation, but that's the monster the MLB has created and refuses to tame.
Instant replay, whether in the form of a manager's right to challenge one call per game, or an automatic review of close baserunning calls, could have made this whole thing a non issue.
Only in the twisted world of Major League Baseball can we have one of the most beloved players of the last quarter century in Ken Griffey Jr. announce his retirement, and we're stuck watching an umpire screw up a 28-year-old's shot at history.
Fans should be talking about Griffey the rest of the week—remembering that swing, that smile, and that leaping wall catch we all know from the Upper Deck commercial. We should be talking about how he was one of the good guys of the steroid era, and how if not for injuries and a strike-shortened season, he'd be remembered as the best hitter of all time.
Instead, all Griffey got was about an hour and a half. We've moved on to Jim Joyce, and from here, fans will start asking questions.
Why doesn't MLB have instant replay to prevent these kind of disasters from ever happening?
Why do the NFL, NBA and NHL understand that replay (when used correctly) is a good thing, but MLB doesn't?
Why does the MLB keep pulling the Joyce call (and every other MLB highlight) off YouTube?
Why do I care so much about a sport that seems to go out of its way to be so damn unfriendly to fans?
And now that fans have hit rock bottom, it's time for baseball to start fixing things.
It's time to at least start the discussion about some kind of replay system—not something that changes how we view balls and strikes, but a system that prevents a perfect game, or a playoff game, getting blown by a bad base running call.
It's time to get Joyce's call up on YouTube, along with a montage of MLB-approved Griffey highlights, and every other clip—good and bad—fans are searching for. Fans don't want to steal MLB highlights for personal gain—they want to watch them, forward them to friends, and talk about them.
And with some kind of sign that MLB actually cares, we'll move on. We'll move on to talking about Stephen Strasburg's debut, Bryce Harper's hype and All-Star voting.
Fans have put up with the steroid mess. We've endured an All-Star Game tie, and now a disaster that replay could have fixed.
Take action, MLB. Make June 2 be the day when everything changed, not just another chink in MLB's deteriorating armor.