Whoever said “nice guys finish last” was really very wrong. By having a reputation is “one of the best”, combined with the MLB’s efforts to downplay the faults of their outdated systems, Jim Joyce is off-the-hook for what could be the worst call in the history of baseball.
The sports media thinks Kobe Bryant is the only player on the Lakers, believes Tiger Woods is golf, and forgives Jim Joyce for obviously and admittedly blowing Armando Galarraga’s perfect game.
Less than two weeks after the game-destroying shocking wrong call, ESPN Magazine released an “anonymous” (which could mean “fixed”), poll of one-hundred current MLB players that named Jim Joyce the best umpire in the league. He was named on over half of the ballots. That’s quite the reputation.
One player was quoted as saying, “The sad thing about the Galarraga game is, Jim Joyce is seriously one of the best umpires around… He always calls it fair, so players love him. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s terrible that this happened to him.” Perhaps “always” was a bit much in that statement.
Whether you think one bad moment in time should be forgiven, or you think he should join the popular unemployment sector, something is seriously wrong here for that kind of mistake to be deemed acceptable.
And the good sportsmanship shown all around just makes the situation appear more acceptable. It is over, and the only thing to do is move forward. But how does that make such a blatant flaw in baseball a non-issue.
The majority of the players in the ESPN Magazine poll endorsed commissioner Bud Selig’s decision not to overturn the call. Perhaps it is because several are on the Cleveland Indians, perhaps it is because the game will go down in history with its own special stigma attached to it. It was the not-quite-perfect-because-the-game isn’t-perfect game.
There is an air of puritanism surrounding this mess. Fans, media and players alike think that what happens on the field, stays on the field. The game has been played a certain way, so it should stay a certain way. This is the most Amish mentality. Baseball is a part of the world, which changes and evolves. We are in the technological revolution. Denying a feature that can improve the accuracy of the game is a nostalgia-driven way of thinking.
Why embrace technology and improve the sport? Baseball has many eras: the dead ball era, the integration era, the expansion era, the free agency era, the long ball/steroid era. Now is the fantasy era, hesitant to make precision in its statistical-obsessed world a reality.
MLB doesn’t want to pay for a 4th umpire to sit in the replay booth and appeal missed calls, nor do they want to deal with the work involved in implementing new processes. Baseball fans, players and writers alike are uninterested in anything that could lengthen the already long games. 77% of those 100 random players felt that instituting replay for calls on the bases is a bad idea.
Is no one willing to think outside the batters’ box here? There are dozens of ways to shorten games. This should not be the main concern here. MLB should want their game to be fair, that is, after all, why they’re so against performance-enhancing drugs and gambling, right?