Randolph Charlotin. 4th June, 2010 - 2:04 pm
It's impossible to not feel sorry for Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga after he lost his chance for a perfect game because of a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce.
It's even possible to feel worse for Joyce because he has to live with the costly mistake. Even if Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig decides to eventually overturn the call and award Galaragga the perfect game, Joyce won't forget his mistake and few will forgive him.
Even though the right thing for Selig to do is to use his authority to fix this, he did the right thing by not reversing the call.
It's too bad Galaragga's opportunity for what is a once-in-a-lifetime performance was lost to an erroneous judgment call, but if Selig got involved, it would erase the line that restricts when the commissioner gets involved as well as when teams can make appeals to baseball's highest office.
As much as some will claim this is a special circumstance and would be an isolated incident, Selig knows it would open Pandora's Box. What would stop teams from bringing various missed calls to his door? If he gets involved once, Selig is inviting all teams to observe his interjection as an open-door policy for any judgment call missed on the field. It wouldn't take long for every blown call to become known as "Call the Commish" calls.
The old saying claims the right decision usually is the toughest decision. Another declares with great power comes great responsibility. Selig has the authority to change history, but doing it this time would change baseball in the future. The umpires wouldn't appreciate being watched over their shoulder. The umpire's union would take issue if their ability to police themselves is constantly at risk of being undermined on every call.
The fan in Selig wants to make things right. But making this an exception would invite every blown call to be taken to his desk to be reviewed and reversed. Selig has to shrug his shoulders and walk away from getting involved at this moment.
But this blown call could be the vehicle Selig needs to drive home the point to the owners and the two unions (players and umpires) to expand instant replay.
It's been the device Major League Baseball has been slow to adopt. Arguably no sport has as many judgment calls as baseball does, whether it is calling outs at every base, fair or foul balls, home runs, or pitches. But it took the league until 2008 to finally make use of the available technology to adopt instant replay.
But baseball merely dipped their toe into the instant replay waters by using it only to determine home runs. That's like crawling in the right direction as opposed to taking a step.
The question now is whether this play gives Selig a strong enough case to bring to the unions and owners to expand the use of instant replay. If all sides agree to broader use of replay, they won't allow every possible use under the sun. But they won't go forward as cautiously as they did when MLB allowed it for just home runs.
Selig may not have an ulterior motive to make this blown call a shining example. But with instant replay constantly hovering over the game, there are very few better examples for why more is needed.
Read more by Randolph Charlotin at his New England Patriots blog at. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.