Friday, June 04, 2010

Of Blown Calls and Perfect Games

For those who don't keep up with baseball, there has been a brouhaha the last week over a heart breaking blown call by an umpire on the last out of what otherwise would have been a perfect game. Perfect games are therefore incredibly rare pitching feats. A perfect game is slightly different than a no hitter. A perfect game is where no base runner of any kind is allowed on base by a hit, walk, or hit by pitch. A no hitter can still have had a guy or two on base by walks, etc.

The replay clearly shows the guy was out, but all things considered, it was a bang-bang play, as they say in the announcing trade. If you watch it full speed, I think you will have a bit more sympathy for the umpire in question. Umpires only get to watch it full speed, except in cases this season of a potential home run over the foul pole.

I witnessed a home run called off after replay when I was in Minneapolis last week. The umpires disappeared into the dugout for like five minutes. They finally came out and waved off the home run. I had no idea how to notate that on the scorecard because replay of any kind in baseball is a very new thing. Football has had it for years.

I will be honest: I absolutely HATE replay of any kind. I hate it for several reasons. This is not because I am a technophobe, I just think, for one, it completely destroys the flow of the game. Players loitering about, waiting for some call of some kind. Its just obnoxious. I won't even go into how many times I seen a game with replay and the booth still gets it wrong.

I think it was the right call by Selig to not overturn the call after the game for two reasons. If you start unilaterally rewriting the endings to games, soon you will be swamped with appeals of all kinds. The Commissioner's office would become the post facto review booth. Bug Selig has enough to deal with involving steroids.

Secondly, baseball is not always fair. That goes for sports in general. Umps make mistakes; managers make mistakes; players make mistakes. It is just part of the game. This entitlement syndrome that every call has to be completely 100% right all the time drives me crazy. Likewise, no one seems to be complaining that the pitcher in question got 2 strikeouts on very questionable called 3rd strikes earlier in the game.

Bad calls are just part of the game. Players benefit as much from bad calls and they are on the short end of bad calls. Bad calls gives fans sometime to gripe talk about. Bad calls also put people in their place. Imperfection is part of the game.  Replay has been proven to make referees sloppy. I have had a college referee tell me off the record that big time college football refs are now unofficially trained to make bad calls in the event of a close play in the hopes of triggering a review in the booth. Players are not entitled to have every call go their way. That is simply the way it is in the great game of life.

Can you name any of the other players without looking who have pitched a no hitter or perfect game in the last 10 years? Do you want their autographs? Probably not. That pitcher in question is going to make a fortune in baseball autographs now and in the future because he's the guy that got robbed of a perfect game. He is now an oddity that garners sympathy. People want autographs like that.

Don't believe me? Go ask Ralph Branca and Bobby Thompson.

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