A few quick takes on what happened in Detroit last night to pitcher Armando Galarraga who was an out away from a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce blew a potential game-ending call at first base (it's about 3:40 into the video below--see the incredible catch that preceded the controversial call, too).
First, this isn't about umps acting badly, as has been the case way too often in Major League Baseball over the years and even more so the first couple of months this season. Baitiing, swearing arbiters injecting themselves into games or inflaming situations they should be trying to defuse have no place in baseball--remember what happened to Dave Bush a couple of games ago in Minnesota?
I doubt Joyce was trying to intrude last night in Detroit. This is a blown call, plain and simple. Umps behaving badly is a debate for another time Umps missing plays? That's here and now.
Expect endless calls for more instant replay, with Commissioner Bud Selig's cadre of perma-critics using last night to again label him as the game's most inept overlord for not having already done so. A blown call in a perfect game--on what would've been the 27th and final out--will do that.
I know people love "the human element" of baseball but it's time the big leagues got it right. It's time for a serious discussion of how to effectively incorporate modern technology with a timeless game, without turning each contest into a cricket match. How you do that without making games run eight hours is certainly a consideration, but the game has handled thornier issues. Blown calls were part of the game, but then, there was a time when segregation was tolerated in baseball, too. Bad ideas have expiration dates, either through the evolution of our own senses of right and wrong (the exclusion of blacks) or technology (almost every game is televised, using scads of cameras from all angles). Think of the replay camera as equipment refinement, not unlike the glove, the bat and the ball itself. It's not a change that alters on-field performance, but rather one that enhances the game's integrity.
Which, after all, is what it's all about. Or, at least it should be.