Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Jim Joyce Affect

Within minutes of the decision Wednesday night, Facebook was flooded with angry, spiteful messages. There were already multiple Facebook groups of denouncification...that already held a thousand members. People were calling for blood, and calling for action. Was this a war? A civil-rights issue? A crime? None of the above.

What had happened was one of the worst calls in major league baseball history was made live on regional and national television, at very possibly the worst time it could have been made. A very special event was mere seconds away from completetion. Armondo Galarraga, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was one out away from completing the first perfect game in Tigers history, and only the 20th (or 21st) in MLB history. He had as far retired 26 of 27 batters. With two outs in the ninth the 27th stood waiting at the plate. With the pitch, the 27th batter swatted a grounder between 1st and second base. The Tigers first baseman came off the bag to field the ball, while Galarraga ran to cover first base. The throw from the first baseman fielding the grounder to Galarraga beat the runner by a stride and a half. First base umpire Jim Joyce called the runner safe, and a moment of shock shrouded the field and the stands. The Tiger players, some who had already began to celebrate, stopped dead in their tracks. A deep, painful chorus of boos echoed from the Comerica Park stands. Jim Leyland, the Tigers manager, as well as a few players argued the call with Joyce. There was nothing they could do, history had been unfairly altered. You by now probably know the drama that has played out with Joyce admitting error, and Galarraga's class in forgiving him, so let's move on to the larger picture.

In the hours and days following the event, fans continued to point the finger at Joyce. He of course was the one who made the fateful call. A few in the media and fanbase have however begun to realize the real culprit. The real culprit is MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. You see, thanks to Selig, major league baseball has no form of instant replay for anything other than homeruns. Many major mistakes occur in the game by the officiating crews today, which can go un-ammended or reviewed. This is the latest, and by-far one of the largest and most eggregous, to appear. Selig has continually maintained a hostile toward the idea of instant replay, citing the game's "purity" as reason to not enact the system that all other major sports have long since used. You see, the moment Joyce made that call, it was over. There was nothing anyone other than the commissioner could do to reverse the unjust call. We all by now know of the sly statement released from the commissioner's office yesterday that he will not reverse the call. You see, had this been hockey, or football, the play would have been rightly reviewed and the call reversed in moments. History would have it's rightful place and moment.

The time however has long since come and gone for baseball to act. Who is the next team and/or player to suffer from Major League Baseball's ineptitudes? Everyone and anyone is vulnerable to the same horrific gaffs we witnessed last week. The fact is that instant replay gives professional sports an all-seeing form of checks-and-balances. With the ever-furthering television technology in the past several decades, fans at home can see what fans in the stands might not get to see. The fans at home can also see the game in a far more advanced form than those who watched the game in the 1970's could. Modern television has become in it's own a form of vigilante truth to the game, putting the officiating of the game on display for all of society to be judge and juror.

It is in my opinion that baseball needs to right this. The real way they can right this is by istituting replay so this never happens to another team again. Team ownership and GM's from around the league need to come together and petition the baseball heirarchy for sweeping change, and now. Until that happens, Bud Selig and his cronies will continue to be the inept goats of Major League Baseball, and history will have it's ultimate judgement upon their names.

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