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Galarraga’s Loss Could Be Our Gain

The blown call to end Armando Galarraga’s bid for a perfect game has, quite predictably, restarted debate on the topic of instant replay in Major League Baseball. Replay was introduced in 2008, but was limited to home runs. Here’s Commissioner Selig on the introduction of replay:

“I believe that the extraordinary technology that we now have merits the use of instant replay on a very limited basis,” Commissioner Selig said. “The system we have in place will ensure that the proper call is made on home run balls and will not cause a significant delay to the game.” (emphasis mine)

This is Selig’s justification for why instant replay couldn’t be used on plays like fair or foul calls on balls in play or on calls at bases, much like what happened with the play in tonight’s game. Selig has been very reluctant to implement instant replay in any form due to this fear of slowing down the game, which has manifested itself already this season.

Tonight may have been the final straw. In 2008, two missed calls on home runs in New York City in a very short time interval created the first frenzy about instant replay. Tonight’s debacle in Detroit has completely unleashed the powers of the press. At the time of this writing, about two and a half hours after the last pitch, here’s what some in the media are saying about the call.

Bill Simmons, ESPN: Silver lining: instant replay now a lock.
@PTIShow (Tony Kornheiser), ESPN: The lack of replay isn’t just unfair to Galarraga, it’s unfair to Joyce.
Keith Law, ESPN: I, for one, welcome our new replay overlords.
Henry Schulman, San Francisco Chronicle: OK, replay fans, I’m in.
Jayson Stark: WE NEED MORE REPLAY.
Christine Brennan, USA Today: Selig should go to instant replay — now.
Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports: It’s the perfect time to expand instant replay.
Buster Olney, ESPN: This will become Exhibit A on why baseball should have already had broader use of instant replay.

This is only in the immediate aftermath of the game. Surely more pleas for instant replay will be coming from both the blogosphere and the mainstream media as the newsday begins anew on Thursday.

This is long overdue. The technology is too advanced for baseball to be subjected to the inadequacies inherent in human umpires. We’ve seen it in every major American sport (sorry, soccer) in some way, shape, or form, and it is almost unanimously supported. Eventually, it will set in. No matter how much we talk about the human element, what matters is the performance on the field. What matters is getting it right. Hopefully, the incoming media storm will be enough to convince Bud Selig of the very same.