Instant Replay: What Would Bill Veeck Do?

The topic of bringing instant replay/call-reversal into the preciously preserved game of baseball has been rehashed and reopened once more; this time by a wound befitting the very basis of the subject. 

Over the years, much has been spoken, written and argued on the issue - but no single event in the history of MLB has brought this discussion to the table so ferociously as the (Im)Perfect Game on June 2nd.

We all witnessed or have seen by now, the effervescent crotch-grab of Miguel Cabrera upon throwing out Armando Galarraga's 27th and final batter, in what woulda-coulda-shoulda-been a Perfect Game for the young Tigers pitcher. 

Only he didn't throw him "out" according to the only person that mattered, the ill-fated first base umpire, Jim Joyce. 

Joyce is only human, and his right to err is typically considered a charming cornerstone of the game.

By now, most of us other humans have already forgiven his imperfection, especially in the light of his sincere apology and the pain visible on his face and vibrating through his vocal cords when he speaks of the moment that will inevitably define his decades of service to the sport.

Human error is one of the traditional talking points of the game, and one of the elements that baseball purists have been stubborn to alter even amidst the development of sophisticated technology that can far more accurately assess the rightness of a play, the location of a pitch, a ball landing within millimeters of the foul line, and so forth...

Which is why I find it almost too fitting that it took the tarnishing of something so rare and considered "perfect" - a moment of basic human error on a disastrous scale - to convince many baseball purists that maybe there needs to be a back-up plan when human flaw directly risks or costs something so perfect by its very definition.

As Grinder in Training brought up, it all goes back to tradition.

This concept of baseball tradition has long been "protected" by uptight Commissioners and the conservative opinions of how the game should be, or once was.

We don't need Peter Sellers here starring in three different roles to remind us that this concept of purity is a sort of farce in itself.  Professional athletes will never be as heroic and infallible as our childhood minds once perceived them to be.  And what's become known as the Steroid Era is only one fraction of the truly laughable notion that baseball should be - or was at some point - all pure and well and good and proper.

Greenie, anyone?

As White Sox fans, we should be the first to support the evolution of the game, so long as the game is improved by the changes. 

Most of us (rightly) idolize a man who spent his career pissing off the purists in an effort to positively enhance the game and the experience for the fans and good of the sport. 

I believe whole-heartedly that Bill Veeck would lead the choir on reviewing plays in baseball, if he was still around to see this unfurling.  (Maybe he'd even be in a better position to push the 3-ball-walk if people were so worried about longer games!)

Plain and simple, in this girl's opinion, the game must change.  I have no desire to see reviewed plays on a regular basis, but at least have the option in place to do so when the situation is dire.  I don't care to expand in detail on my personal belief of how this should break down since it's rather irrelevant, but I believe there can be a healthy balance of man and machine in the game of baseball, and in such a way that preserves the spirit of the sport.

And I see Galarraga's Imperfect Game to be the turning point - the event just devastating and embarrassing enough to transform this ongoing jaw-flapping into serious action.

 

As terribly as I feel for both Galarraga and Joyce, I don't want the call reversed and the Perfecto awarded in retrospect.  No matter how blatantly wrong it was, it should remain:  an example of how desperately the game needs to be updated, and the undeserving and unnecessary guilt upon a person who made a simple mistake at the worst of times.

Galarraga was the most collected and classy guy you could have imagined in such an emotional moment; and everyone considers his game perfect despite the final box score with that uninvited "1" rearing its ugly pointed head.

More so, Galarraga and Jim Joyce could turn out to be the straws that break the camel's back.  Historically, that will resonate louder and with greater appreciation than another Perfect Game, for the way that it will ultimately change baseball, I believe, for the better. 

My heart is aching for them both, but I see this as one of baseball's many fated events. 

One batter away from making history the "traditional" way, Galarraga secured his spot in baseball lore as the most gracious and honorable guy to ever pitch a tragically imperfect game.

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