BREAKING NEWS: Commissioner Bud Selig won't reverse an umpire's admitted blown call that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
Really? The Commissioner of Major League Baseball not stepping in and overturning an umpire’s decision from the previous night’s game, something that literally happens every day, is breaking news?
It is confusing that anyone would even be interested in Selig reversing umpire Jim Joyce’s call. Regardless of what the official score says 24 hours later, Galarraga’s performance hasn’t changed since last night.
Would people be more impressed with what happened last night if Selig changed the scorebook to read that Jason Donald didn’t hit a single in the ninth inning, even though he actually did?
Baseball’s umpires have the right to call whatever they think the right decision isthat’s the consequence of having human beings in charge of things.
As Ken Funck notes on Baseball Prospectus today, “[Joyce] made an entirely all-too-human mistake at the worst possible time… umpires generally do a difficult job quite well, but there’s no reason to continue to accept these errors, understandable and inevitable as they may be. Saying we should live with them is akin to saying that we should live with scurvy and smallpox, despite readily available preventatives with little or no downside.”
Funck calls for an expansion on MLB’s instant replay policy, one that would help put an end to poor calls like Joyce’s last night. While I happen to agree with him, I don’t think making calls for changes to the game’s rules following an emotional episode such as last night’s Tigers game is not typically a good way to go about doing things. Reactionary decision-making leads to the Patriot Act rather than sound, reason-based change.
MLB’s [and its fans] reluctance to embrace an instant replay system such as that of the NFL is silly, but the rules are what they are and Jim Joyce didn’t do anything notably out of the ordinary last night; his mistake just happened to come at an inopportune moment.