Thursday, June 03, 2010

DON'T CHANGE JIM JOYCE'S CALL. Apparently the Commissioner is considering changing the umpire's call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

No. Human umpires are part of baseball, and if you're going to have them, you're going to have blown calls. And human though they are, their rulings have to stand. Why? Because to challenge their authority is to throw the whole premise of baseball into chaos.

Baseball is not supposed to be a quasi-mechanical Thunderdome affair like football, with everything from the players' muscle mass to the video review delegated to state-of-the-art science. It is, as George Carlin memorably observed, a game played in a park. The vagaries, oddities, and lapses in judgement -- and there are plenty in a 162-game season -- are part of the pleasure. I once saw Benny Agbayani take a fly ball he'd caught and toss it into the stands, thinking he had made the third out; he had in fact made the second, and the ground-rule double cost the Mets the game. That sucked, but nobody thought the result should be reversed because that wasn't what he should have done.

Umpires fuck up too, yet we've decided to treat them like God: Their word rules even if everyone in the park disputes it. And only the ump himself can reverse the call. Maybe you would prefer that there should be Baseball Courts of Appeal or The Guardians of the Universe or some shit, but them's the rules, and games without rules are only fun for people who've taken too much acid.

If you want to put in video review -- an abomination, I still believe -- then you can avoid these kinds of problems in future games of the thing you will call baseball and I will call bullshit. But only then.

UPDATE. Let me add something else: A ballgame is not a court of law. Our judicial system is convoluted because human lives are at stake. In Major League Baseball, the only thing at stake is some millionaires' future trade value.

I think Billy Martin said it best.

UPDATE 2. And if me and Billy haven't convinced you, be aware that one of National Review's biggest idiots -- John J. Miller, sort of Jonah Goldberg on training wheels -- wants the call overturned.

Speaking of National Review idiots, Daniel Foster:
In a weird way, it is like the BP spill. Those of us who oppose instant replay in baseball, like those of us who support domestic drilling, correctly (I think) point out that catastrophic failures of the status quo are so unlikely that worries about them shouldn't guide our policy thinking. But then Deepwater Horizon blew up and Jim Joyce blew a perfect game.
I've never seen Foster so maybe he really is 10 years old and a lot of things in life that we adults take for granted are brand new to him.

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