Argument: Fallible umpire calls are part of the drama of baseball

Issue Report: Instant replay in baseball


Ross Douthat. “Against Instant Replay” New York Times. June 3, 2010: “And the fact that the fallibility of umpires has always been part of baseball history strikes me as a sound — not dispositive, but sound — argument in favor of living with that fallibility, even in an age when the worst blunders could be corrected with a glance at a television monitor. It’s not fair, but then life is not fair, and I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the next generation of fans is deprived of the particular agony associated with losing a game, or more, because the umpires are human beings too.

Or put another way, as much as Galarraga deserves official credit for perfection, I’m not sure I want to live in a world where his achievement is remembered as just another rare-but-not-that-rare sporting feat, rather than what it was — something more extraordinary and more memorable, something that brought out the best, in a strange way, in everybody involved, and something that will still be talked about long after the season’s other perfectos have faded into trivia. And I don’t want to live in a world where Joe Posnanski, America’s best sportswriter, didn’t get the chance to write these words about a pitcher’s grace in the face of an umpire’s folly:

Galarraga pitched a perfect game on Wednesday night in Detroit. I’ll always believe that. I think most baseball fans will always believe that. But, more than anything it seems that Galarraga will always believe it. The way he handled himself after the game, well, that was something better than perfection. Dallas Braden’s perfect game was thrilling. Roy Halladay’s perfect game was art. But Armando’s Galarraga’s perfect game was a lesson in grace.

And when my young daughters ask, “Why didn’t he get mad and scream about how he was robbed,” I think I will tell them this: I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s because Armando Galarraga understands something that is very hard to understand, something we all struggle with, something I hope you learn as you grow older: In the end, nobody’s perfect. We just do the best we can.
Amen to that. And no to instant replay.”