What's done is done. Commissioner Bud Selig did not overturn umpire Jim Joyce's imperfect call Thursday. Nor will he, according to highly placed sources.
Nor should he.
MLB.com: Watch the play
MLB.com: Ump Jim Joyce's reaction
Wednesday's recap: Tigers 3, Indians 0
Thursday's recap: Tigers 12, Indians 6
Detroit Free Press: Call mars perfect night
Community: What's your take?
It was a debacle, it's sad on many levels and it's over. To overrule Joyce and retroactively award Armando Galarraga a perfect game would not fill the emptiness.
You still rob Galarraga of the emotions of the moment. Joyce still goes forward with a Titanic-sized anchor dragging down what heretofore had been a solid reputation. And you open up a serious Pandora's box of problems relating to which future blown calls should qualify for further review.
No, right here, right now, the bottom line is this:
Baseball needs to be looking forward, not backward.
Baseball needs better umpires. Baseball needs to figure out a workable way to incorporate more instant replay. Baseball needs to be proactive and visionary, because this has become the Year of the Umpire, and nobody likes that. Not the fans, not the players and damn sure not the umpires who, believe it or not, mostly care about this game as much as anyone.
(Well, other than Joe West, who cares about Joe West and selling compact discs. And maybe Bob Davidson, who is on a perpetual secret mission to uncover balks. And Angel Hernandez, who too often is arrogance personified. ...)
Anyway, these blown calls and heated arguments are not going away without smart people coming together to implement intelligent plans.
This is how you fix this.
Not with revisionist history.
Not with Selig scrubbing away from the game's permanent record a play we all now have seen a zillion times.
Too often over its recent past, baseball has not been smart enough to look forward. Otherwise, we never would have had to endure artificial turf, the White Sox in Bermuda shorts and the Steroid Era.
Oh, we've all spent a ton of time looking backward over that last one. Debating who was clean and who wasn't, arguing over what could have and should have been done differently. Tell it to Hank Aaron. Had baseball been more visionary and recognized what was happening in, say, 1990 or 1992 instead of not picking up on it in until the early 2000s, a giant problem named Barry Bonds would not be sitting atop the all-time home run leaderboard today.
History is this game's foundation. But sometimes the best way to preserve history is by taking a hard look at the present and projecting it out into the future. As Tigers manager Jim Leyland often says, you can't chew yesterday's dinner. Translation: What's done is done.
|The use of instant replay would have got this call right the first time. (AP)|
Time that would be spent far more productively planning ahead to make sure this is the last Blown Call Heard 'Round the World.
Umpiring must improve. Look, I don't want to bag on them as a group because, overwhelmingly, most of them do a very good job. And I was talking to a veteran manager and former player extensively about this year's problems the other day, and he insists umpiring has not gotten worse in recent years -- even going back to when he played in the 1980s. It's just that every single badly botched call is magnified now, he said, because every game is televised and highlight shows run around the clock.
Maybe. But I do know guys like West, Davidson, Hernandez and C.B. Bucknor are ruining the good reputations of others. Standards must raise, a serious rating system must be implemented and those umpires who don't score highly enough should be gone. This isn't the Supreme Court. There shouldn't be jobs for life.
Instant replay must be expanded. It's unwieldy to review balls and strikes, especially when pace of game is such an issue in today's multi-tasked and over-worked society. And I'm not necessarily an advocate of opening replay's jurisdiction to fully cover the bases.
But why not allow instant replay for controversial calls on the bases in, say, the late innings of games? Allow it from the seventh inning on. What's the harm with trying that? It's still limited. You still wouldn't need it every night. But when there is a potential game-deciding (or perfect-game deciding) play, replay would be available at the most crucial time. And in the digital age, no, it should not take longer than a couple of minutes to figure it out.
I know Selig on Wednesday said he would consult with his Special On-Field Committee, which, among others, includes field managers and general managers. Fine. But you know what? He did that over the winter, and they mostly passed on instant replay.
It shouldn't be that hard to fix. Make a couple of decisions and get on with it.
Yes, it is a travesty that Galarraga does not come away from this with a perfect game.
But the greater shame will be if baseball does not improve the umpiring and add more replay to make sure that this does not happen again.
The postseason is only five months away. The game does not need another Jim Joyce moment.
Jim Joyce and his beleaguered colleagues especially do not need another Jim Joyce moment.