The word "brave" in sports is often overused, but that's what Jim Joyce is. He's incredibly brave. After making one of the worst calls in regular-season Major League Baseball history, he publicly apologized to his victim, Armando Galarraga, and the pitcher accepted. A potentially ugly and explosive situation was eased because of the class of the two men.
MLB.com: Watch the play
MLB.com: Ump Jim Joyce's reaction
Wednesday's recap: Tigers 3, Indians 0
Stubits: MLB can, should fix this ... sort of
Detroit Free Press: Call mars perfect night
Community: What's your take?
Joyce certainly has a hardier intestinal tract than commissioner Bud Selig. He has been the driving force against baseball modernizing itself with full replay, which is taking the easy way out. While other leagues eventually accepted they would need to enter the 21st century, Selig sticks to the 1950s.
The NFL and NBA are warp drives, futurama and flying cars. In SeligWorld it's roller skates, drive-through cinemas and Commies.
This is what happens when a sport sticks to its old-school dogma. The dogma sometimes bites back.
Baseball is embarrassed right now. It looks foolish. Send in the clowns. Bud: Football and basketball are laughing at you.
Only in baseball is human error championed. The NFL eventually realized that human error is damaging.
The problem for baseball remains an obvious one. Fans have TVs. Um, yes, Bud, they do.
They have big screens, high definition and TiVo. They can create their own sophisticated replay system right in their own living rooms. They can see the sweat dripping off a player's forehead or if he was safe at first base.
To pretend they don't isn't just foolish, it's also arrogant. Even the NFL isn't that arrogant.
Leagues should be ahead of their fan base, not vice versa. Baseball fans currently have more technology at their disposal than the sport's on-field rules enforcers. There's something both astonishing and sad about that fact.
Baseball tradition is one thing but blatant stupidity is another.
Professional football came to understand this. The sport had its seminal moment in December 1998. New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde tried a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal in the closing seconds of a game. Replays showed the football failing to cross the goal line but game officials called it a touchdown. There was no instant replay and the Jets won, costing Seattle a playoff spot and Dennis Erickson his job.
After some blistering criticism, the NFL instituted full instant replay the following season. That was over a decade ago and for the most part instant replay has worked wonderfully in the sport.
|Miguel Cabrera witnessed the horror of blown calls first hand. (AP)|
Selig has an opportunity to turn this travesty into a similar sport-changing event, but I'm not so certain he will because he's stuck in the Pleistocene Era when it comes to this subject.
No one should ask Selig to pull out his God card and retroactively overturn Joyce's call and change history. That's just silly talk. Selig won't and shouldn't do that.
What baseball needs to do is get off its high horse. Full replay is the future. To fight it is self-defeating.
Baseball acts like it's too good to use full replay when the truth is it can't afford not to.
If baseball had replay, the conversations taking place now wouldn't be happening. There would be celebrating. Galarraga would be a hero and Selig's sport would be basking in the glow of getting things right.
Instead, here we are.
Back in 1950.