Professional sports are often surrounded in controversy. More times than not this involves the officials in one form or another. There has been one professional league, Major League Baseball, that has been particularly stubborn in upholding its original rules. It's arguably an admirable quality to the sport that some would argue is ignorant and outdated. The latest controversy involving Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and Major League umpire Jim Joyce has put the dated rules in the MLB under a microscope yet again. With a spotlight on it. In the 9th inning, with 2 outs, Armando Galarraga was one out away from being only the 21st player in Major League Baseball history to record a perfect game (no hits, no walks, no base runners given up). The final batter hit a rather routine ground ball to the first baseman who threw just in time to first with Galarraga covering to secure his perfect game. Or so they thought... Jim Joyce called the runner safe. Replays showed immediately after that the runner was clearly out. And thus begins the latest controversy in a league plagued by bad calls in recent years.
Check it out right here:
There was one striking difference between this controversial call and those in the past. The umpire apologized as soon as he saw the replay. This incident has no doubt been harder on the umpire than it was on the player. The very next game, Jim Joyce could hardly keep himself together as he took the field. He fought back tears as Galarraga walked onto the field to deliver the lineup card to the umpire, demonstrating to Joyce that he had moved on.
At first fans and commentators alike were calling for the baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, to overturn the call and award Galarraga his perfect game. It didn't take long for the commissioner to rule that the call will stand. No perfect game. He did however express his regret that the call was blown. Little consolation to either Galarraga or Joyce.
This all leads to the obvious question, why isn't instant replay being used in baseball? Well, it is. But only for borderline home run calls. And the league was hesitant to even include that. It appears that this latest embarrassment to MLB may have been the brick that broke the camels back. The commissioner has finally decided to address the idea of what many believe to be instant replay. The question is, is it worth it?
There are two sides to that argument. The long standing tradition in baseball has been that the human element in the imperfection that is umpiring is a part of the game. Others argue that we have the technology, why not do whatever it takes to make sure there are no more missed calls with historic consequences? It's easy for the younger generation to be on board with instant replay because many of us have grown up in the age of high definition, instant replay, and 20 camera angles for every play. The older generation has a different appreciation for the raw, natural feel of the game.
It's a battle of tradition vs. modernization. Which is better? In a field like medicine that's a no brainer. But when it comes to a game with no significant impact on the general public it gets more complicated. In the end, an umpire's career is tainted, a player lost his shot at history, and everyone is left feeling unsatisfied, and in some cases, devastated. The commissioner made a decision consistent with positions he has taken in the past. Will the game be changed because of this incident? It appears likely. Will we like what we get? Stay tuned for that.