Thursday, June 3, 2010

Replay: Still A Bad Idea

Three words for the Lords of Baseball: don't do it.

I know the drumbeat is building for an expanded use of replay to review umpires' decisions. The emotional response to the bad call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game in Detroit is to demand redress. Even the umpire, Jim Joyce, admitted it was a bad call and apologized to Galarraga.

To which I say, "so what?" Bad calls are as much a part of baseball as bad bounces and fly balls that vanish in the sun. We can all agree that Joyce got it wrong. But then what? I understand some truly misguided souls are calling for Commissioner Bud Selig to step in and overrule Joyce, handing Galarraga the mother of all asterisks. Their logic: it was the last out of the game, so an ex post facto ruling wouldn't alter the flow of the game.

Let's hope Selig isn't dumb enough to buy into that line of thinking. But let's also hope he doesn't bend on replay, either. It's bad enough that baseball already allows games to come to a standstill while umpires disappear from the field to gaze at replays of home run calls (the majority of which, it turns out, they got right in the first place). What next? Every play at first base? Every stolen base attempt? Every ball-strike call?

Here's the point: each and every call in a game matters. For starters, the average game features close to 300 pitches. Each ball-strike call could alter the remainder of the game (the difference between a 3-0 count and a 2-1 count changes many things). Do replay advocates really want every one of those calls subject to review?

Over the long haul, there will be a few bad calls and a lot of good calls. Over the long haul, things do balance out. Baseball is a game of repetition: pitch after pitch, inning after inning, game after game. What it doesn't need is to have that rhythm interrupted for huddles around the TV monitor.

Do I feel bad for Armando Galarraga? Of course, who wouldn't? But is it worth sacrificing the beauty and pace of the game so we can put another guy's name in a record book somewhere? I say no.

No comments: