Re­play may get it right, but we don’t have to like it

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/ pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

Ar­mando Galar­raga most cer­tainly wishes there was um­pire re­play avail­able at the Ma­jor League Base­ball leave on an early June day dur­ing the 2010 sea­son.

Pitch­ing for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleve­land In­di­ans on June 2, the then 29-year-old Galar­raga was deal­ing. He was two-thirds through the ninth in­ning and had faced the min­i­mum num­ber of the hit­ters (26) and thrown just 83 pitches.

A per­fect game is a milestone mo­ment for pitch­ers. If you were play­ing a game con­sole, it’d un­lock an achieve­ment.

To put it in per­spec­tive, only 23 pitch­ers in MLB his­tory have thrown a per­fect game.

It means no one from the other team reached base through nine in­nings. There were no hits, walks or er­rors that could re­sult in a base run­ner.

It’s be­yond im­pres­sive for a pitcher to be per­fect. A lot of things have to go right.

So here was Galaragga, a per­fect game was at his fin­ger­tips, when Jason Don­ald hit a ground­ball to first base. Com­ing out his wind-up, the pitcher sped to­wards the first base bag while Miguel Cabr­era fielded the ball and made the sim­ple toss to Galar­raga.

He caught the ball and dropped his cleat on the base a step be­fore Don­ald hit the bag with his left foot. Galar­raga had done it — thrown a per­fect game.

Only um­pire Jim Joyce saw the play dif­fer­ently. He called Don­ald safe on the play and put an end to Galar­raga’s per­fect game bid.

Upon see­ing the re­play, it was supremely ev­i­dent that the pitcher had beaten the run­ner to the bag. Joyce had got­ten it wrong. What did we learn from this? The de­ci­sion mak­ers with the MLB be­gan the process of com­ing up with an in­stant re­play pol­icy that came into ef­fect in 2014 shortly af­ter the in­ci­dent.

Since then the process has come un­der fire on oc­ca­sion from fans, play­ers and ex­perts alike.

For those that like it, they point to um­pires get­ting the call right. On the other hand, it can sig­nif­i­cantly slow the game down.

And let’s face it. Base­ball isn’t a game that needs to get slower. Where do I stand? I’m not a big fan of it. I’m a fan of um­pires get­ting it wrong and teams get­ting an ad­van­tage be­cause of it. I like it when some guy watch­ing a game be­ing played in Tampa Bay from New York doesn’t bail out pitch­ers and field­ers.

There’s a charm to the hu­man el­e­ment in sport and the ev­er­p­re­sent chance that some­thing goes wrong.

Teams are meant to have big in­nings sparked by a blown call at first base. That’s base­ball. Is re­play best for the game? Quite, pos­si­bly. That doesn’t mean I have to like it though.

Sim­ply, the Jim Joyce in­ci­dent doesn’t hap­pen with in­stant re­play. Galar­raga be­comes the 24th pitcher to throw a per­fect game and ev­ery­one goes home happy.

He still man­aged a one-hit­ter, though. So all was not lost.

I find it hard watch­ing know­ing the hu­man el­e­ment is likely be­ing stripped away from it.

Sports aren’t meant to be per­fect.

Just ask Ar­mando Galar­raga.

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