As awful as it was seeing Raul Valdes give up a walk-off grand slam on Wednesday night, I think it's fair to say that most of baseball's attention was focused on Armando Galarraga and his near perfect game. After 8 and 2/3 perfect innings, rookie Jason Donald hit a groundball to Miguel Cabrera, who according to umpire Jim Joyce (at the time), tossed the ball too late to Galarraga to complete the perfect game. Not surprisingly, Thursday morning's various media outlets were filled with anger and frustration over Joyce's ruling, which prevented the second perfect game in a mere four days. And while the media is entertaining to listen to following this type of game, there is one thing that bothered me all day on Thursday: the uproar of the use of instant replay. And although I typically discuss Mets-related business, the controversy of instant replay is something that must be addressed, for it is something that I feel very strongly against.
The most used argument against instant replay is that it would increase the length of games, which is clearly true. The more managers protest, the more plays get reviewed, and the more games get prolonged. I love baseball more than anyone I know, but even I don't want baseball games lasting longer than they already do. Can you imagine how long Yankee-Red Sox playoff games would last with instant replay? Baseball would find its way into December! With as many warm up throws that the pitcher takes, the time in between each pitch in late innings, the time it takes to get pitchers warm in the bullpen, baseball is already long enough. Making it longer would just drive more fans away from the ballpark.
Secondly, there has been a trend the last few years in that people are claiming that the accuracy of the umpires to make correct calls has declined significantly. This is simply an illusion. As viewers at home, we now have the advantage of seeing plays from ten different camera angles and can determine the true outcome much easier than the umpire who only has one angle on the play. I couldn't even begin to try and come up with a number of how many plays are decided by a quarter of a step over the course of 162 games. An umpire is bound to miss at least a few of them. After all, these guys aren't perfect. Every baseball fan knows that these plays balance out over the course of a season and that you can't get riled up over one play just because it may have had an impact on the final score. In a season, every team will have those games they should have won and those they should have lost. The problem is that we tend to only remember the games we should have won because "if we had only won that game...", fill in the blank. Bottom line: the umpires are fine. They are doing the best job they can out there on the field. The only reason we think otherwise is because we now have an ability to see their flaws, something we never had until recently.
Even if Major League Baseball decided to implement the use of instant replay, this is hardly the game that should be the deciding factor. In the end, the only thing that was affected by Jim Joyce's botched call was a personal achievement. The final score was the same and the winning and losing pitchers remained unchanged. I am not undermining the significance of a perfect game. It has only been accomplished twenty times in history, and it is clearly a miraculous event when it occurs. But at the end of the day, we are talking about a game in early June between two uninteresting teams whose goals are just to win as many games as possible. If a fan or a player is more concerned with a personal achievement than how their teams finishes in the standings, then that person needs to reorganize its priorities during a game.
Umpires have become an integral part of the game in recent decades, and to add instant replay would to be simply removing the role of the umpire. You could just look at the screen all day to find out the ruling. As Armando Galarraga said in his post-game interview Wednesday evening, "Nobody's perfect." Baseball consists of a truly long season. The breaks that your team doesn't get at the time always come back in your team's favor at some point in the season, and there's no point over contemplating what would have happened if the umpires had made the right call. Am I suggesting that the Tigers will get rewarded by getting a perfect game that actually counts? No, that will most likely not happen. But I guarantee that sometime before the season ends, Jason Donald will be completely robbed of a base hit.
Follow Steven Hirsch on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Steve_Hirsch