Two outs. Top of the ninth inning. Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers stands on the mound, one out away from a perfect game. Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians hits the ball to the right side. Miguel Cabrera fields the ball and turns toward first. Galarraga does he what he is supposed to and covers the bag at first. Cabrera throws the ball and Galarraga catches it, just before Donald hits the bag. Inexplicably, umpire Jim Joyce spreads out his arms and indicates that Donald is “safe.” The Tigers can’t believe it and arguments ensue.
After the game, everyone huddles around television monitors and it is confirmed: Joyce missed the call. Joyce does the honorable thing and admits that he blew the call. He apologizes to Galarraga, but the damage is done. Baseball has blown it again by refusing to embrace technology. Here are a few reasons why this should be avoided in the future.
The technology works
Other professional sports have embraced technology and used it to correct missed calls. Technology does not make everything right and it is not the solution for everything. However, technology does make things better, and it is time for baseball to make things right. Major League Baseball does not have to replace their umpires with robots and they do not have to review every single play. However, other major sports have found ways to incorporate technology without compromising the integrity of the game.
Issues of pride
In many ways, this is an issue of pride. Major League Baseball has a long, storied history and many people wish to preserve the “sanctity” of the game. However, there is no denying that the “human element” can be flawed and with multiple video cameras and instant media access, every mistake is magnified and played on every highlight show. When the umpire is the story, there is a problem with the game. Sometimes it seems that baseball is more concerned with tradition than accuracy.
The modern fan
If baseball is going to survive and flourish in the future, the game will have to change. Again, Bud Selig does not have to complete revamp the game in order to add a measure of integrity. Armando Galarraga should have a perfect game on his record, but for now he only has an irritating story. Perhaps Major League Baseball will get their act together and institute more extensive replay in the future. For now, the biggest story is an umpire who blew a call. That should not be the focal point during the baseball season.