I know it just seems like hopping on the pile now to dive into a discussion about MLB umpiring issues, instant replay and Jim Joyce but how could I leave the issue alone? I was mighty tempted to dedicate an entire column just to Jim Joyce the night that he blew the infamous call but I withheld because I wanted to keep my wits about me and not say anything that was undeserving. As it turns out, that was probably the best thing to do. The more time that has passed since Armando Galarraga’s fake perfect game the more I’ve realized that Jim Joyce shouldn’t be the target of my ire. There are other people and organizations that are much more deserving of that spite. More after the jump.
By Peter Christian
I’m not gonna kick a dead horse here. He knows he screwed up and has owned up to it. However if we’re going to go with a themed Call Outs column it would be remiss to not mention him. He made the most obvious erroneous call in baseball since 1985 and while it wasn’t a vital out in a World Series game it’s as big of a missed call that you can have during a game in early June.
No matter the argument you offer, Joyce HAS to call Jason Donald out there. The only way he, in his right mind, can call Donald safe on that play is if the ball falls out of Armando Galarraga’s glove. That’s it. If it’s the 27th out of a perfect game and it’s close, that call is going for the perfect game. Has to. Every time.
The only way an umpire thinks to call it safe is if he wants/expects it to be safe. And if an umpire wants/expects anything while on the field, he shouldn’t be on the field in the first place and that opens the next can of worms.
MLB Umpires Union
This is where the issue really begins. The umpires union’s actions (or lack thereof) in the wake of some tremendous gaffes during the past few seasons appear to show a complete disregard for the game itself. As much as people bitch and moan about umpires strike zones, bad calls, bad judgment and willingness to leave their fingerprints on games nothing ever happens. Ever.
The union could take a giant step to repairing the image the fans have of umpires if they went public with their disciplinary actions (if they even have any). If the umpires have any accountability the players and the fans should know. If we don’t know all it does is lend credence to the conspiracy theories that there is a Tim Donaghy-like scandal ongoing among MLB umpires.
Who gets hurt if the union actually governs itself (because it’s apparent MLB can’t govern the umpires)? Does the union really think that membership will decline if they start to require their members try harder? If that’s the problem, we, as baseball fans, have much deeper issues to worry about than a botched call that affects a player’s legacy or unjustly hands a team a ball game.
Instead we get to continue whining about terrible umpiring and questioning the sanity, morality and credibility of the umpires themselves.
Heaven forbid that the league would step in to address a problem while its most prevalent. Then again this is the same institution that turned a blind eye to the league’s steroid/drug problem for more than a decade. If Bud Selig had any stones or an ounce of common sense (prior actions appear to show otherwise) he would denounce Joyce’s call and would publicly do so to other bad calls in the future.
(Note: There is no way Selig could have changed the outcome of the game. I wish he could have but that would have created an awful precedent for commissioners to in effect force the replaying of games after the fact. For example if Selig gives Galarraga a perfect game because of a botched call does he also give St. Louis a World Series title? Does he make New York and Baltimore replay the Jeffrey Maier game? Where does his statute of limitations lie?)
On top of that Selig would need to immediately implement a manner of keeping the umpires honest within the game. It’s a necessity because the incentive of allowing the “good” umpires to continue umping in the post season is obviously not effective and it’s not any consolation to the Minnesota Twins if they miss the playoffs by one game because of a bad call by Dale Scott and Scott’s only punishment is that he sits out the post season as well.
It’s pretty rare when you get to have a high profile job that also has very limited accountability for your mistakes. An MLB umpire is one of those jobs. Apply now… oh wait, they never have openings because no one ever gets fired.
You had to know that Bud wasn’t going to go unscathed in this edition, right? Good ole Bud jumped right into this controversy by issuing a rare comment about a bad call and as usual said the most idiotic thing possible. Following the hullabaloo, Selig said he was, “extremely comfortable” with how the situation was resolved. And by “resolved” he means he just ignored it. Sure, it would have been an impossible situation for him to actually reverse the call but other resolutions should have come about from the situation. Instead we got nothing. As my colleague Jake McCormick would say “TCP” (TCP is an acronym for Typical Club Play).
As for possible solutions, there are plenty and for every solution someone always says that solution is a “slippery slope” to which I say, “you’re an idiot.”
Our friends over at ZonerSports.com have a perfectly reasonable, simple, non-time consuming solution that I’m on board with or instead of going the “challenge” route you could just have a 5th umpire on every crew that sits in the umpires room and watches the game. If there’s a play he sees that should be changed, he can buzz the crew chief and let him know someone screwed up. That would take 15 seconds. Literally. Instead of 5 minute arguments from the player/manager and said player or manager getting tossed out of the game, which extends the game further, we can just rely on our superior video evidence to get things right. But Bud would rather be a docile moron that forces people to applaud him for introducing the Wild Card to baseball. Yep, that sounds like a typical Bud play.
Anyone who argues against instant replay
Newsflash: Instant replay helps sports, not hinders it. If you aren’t on board with that line of thinking, strap in and get ready to get your mind blown. Here comes some infallible logic down the pipe for you.
The reason instant replay isn’t a part of the history of sports is because the technology wasn’t available. That’s it. Seriously, that is the only reason there wasn’t instant replay for football in 1934, for baseball in 1899 or basketball in 1959. If I hopped in a Delorean, rocketed up to 88 mph and brought HD TV’s and HD cameras to the inventors of the sports they’d jump on board to instant replay immediately. Guaranteed.
Then there is the argument that human error is part of baseball (or sports) and to them I say: “shut up, dinosaur.”
Human error was only a part of sports because it had to be, not because there was supposed to be. I really doubt that Abner Doubleday sat in his high back chair smoking a corn cob pipe as he described the game of baseball to people and said, “and there will be times where the umpire gets calls totally wrong and it will cause them to argue incessantly and hate the umpires. Yes, hating the umpires will be an integral part of the game.” In fact, I’ll bet that he never said those words at all. Not even something close to that.
No one is asking an umpire to be perfect all the time (well I will if that umpire says he is opposed to instant replay) but I’ve always maintained that asking for help is not a bad thing, whether its from a camera or a colleague who had a better vantage point. If the goal is to let the players decide the game, why not do exactly that?
There are a few more arguments that are tossed around (all just as idiotic) that I can shoot down in one fell swoop. By bringing instant replay into play it will cut down on field arguments which will actually shorten games, not lengthen them and it won’t fundamentally change the game, it will allow the game to be determined by the fundamentals. I don’t get why people are so against letting the travesties of the game be adjusted. Remember how gross you felt when you saw that Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game? Imagine that grossness was suddenly taken away and the replaced by the players celebrating on the field. Doesn’t that feel better? Really, doesn’t it?
We don’t have to fear instant replay like it’s going to evolve into the Terminator and destroy baseball, it’s just correcting the wrongs. And that feels right.