Instant. Replay. Now.

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Joyce blown call.jpgWe’ve all seen it. We can’t un-see it. And because we’ve seen it — and because we’ll watch it over and over again for the next 48 hours or longer — we know it’s wrong. But baseball won’t see it. Not officially. Baseball has decided against the expansion of instant replay beyond home run calls.

Why? They had some reasons. Some of them even sounded reasonable. I can’t remember them though, because they all disappeared during the step and a half it took Jason Donald to touch first base after he should have been out number 27 in tonight’s non-perfect game.

Because there is no replay, Jim Joyce’s obviously blown call stands, Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game, and I can’t for the life of me think of any justification for that.  It would take too much time? Hell, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played a four hour and sixteen minute game this afternoon. We all handled it. Some of us actually enjoyed it. Because of umpire egos? Sorry, between Joyce’s blown call and everything else that has happened in the last couple of weeks, they’ve lost the right to complain.

It is absolutely imperative that baseball implement some form of replay now. This season, before the playoffs.  The best way, in my view, is to simply station a fifth umpire in the official scorer’s box. Give him the same feed the broadcast guys have. Give him a buzzer and, when an obviously bad call like this one happens, have him call down to the crew chief and overturn the call.  In practice it won’t take long. In function it will be no different than an on-the-field conference in which calls are changed every day.  There is no reason this can’t work and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be implemented.

Take your “human element” and stuff it, mister.  The human element got it wrong. The human element cost Galarraga his place in history.  The human element just thrust Jim Joyce into infamy. I don’t think either of those fellows are where they want to be right now, and there’s no human reason on Earth why it has to be this way.

Bud Selig: you have no choice. You have the power. Implement instant replay now.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉