On June 2, when veteran umpire Jim Joyce blew the call on what would have been the final out of a perfect game for Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga, it wasn't just a human mistake. It was a blown call that cost a young pitcher a place in baseball history.
Considering the thousands and thousands of baseball games played over the history of Major League Baseball, and the fact there have only been 20 perfect games ever pitched, the magnitude of Joyce's mistake was huge. Even with the umpire's apology and Galarraga's handshake the next day, to baseball purists and fans like me things like this have to come to a stop.
The list of bad calls in important games is very long, ranging from the non call of interference in the 1975 World Series, the absolutely horrible call by the first base umpire in the 1985 World Series (which by the way cost St. Louis a championship), and many, many more.
It is time for baseball to get rid of these kind of stains. You can't erase history, but the future is now.
The National Football League changed after a championship was blown, and now NCAA football, NBA basketball and The National Hockey League all have instant replay to help in critical times. The only thing baseball has is replay to decide the fate of questionable home runs.
I am not asking to take away the human element of the game. Balls and strikes should never be decided by replay, although some umpires are pretty questionable in that category, too. That is going too far.
When I was a Dodger fan years ago, I watched as Reggie Jackson intentionally stuck his hind end out in front of a throw to first base by Bill Russell to complete a double play to Steve Garvey in the World Series. The umpire blew the call, blew the game for the Dodgers and in the end the Yankees won another World Series.
I actually talked to Garvey about that play a few years ago, and he said it was the most upset he ever got in a game. He never blamed Jackson, only the umpire.
My last thought is this. Since there are four umpires out there (and in some games there are six), there is no reason why umpires can't huddle together and help one another out. How about an extra official in front of a TV screen to correct bad calls on the bases? Good grief, there's plenty of money out there in baseball to pay for it!
Dan R. Clark