Should Bud Selig reverse the call and award Galarraga the perfect game?

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Selig 6.jpgThat’s the question a dozen people have asked me so far. People are tweeting about it. Even my wife — who knows nothing about any of this aside from the fact that I’m banging out copy about it at 10:00PM about — asked “why can’t they just fix the call?”  Let’s unpack:

Can Bud reverse the call?:  Sure, why not?  I’ve seen some people mention Bud Selig’s powers to act “in the best interests of baseball,” but I think that’s got it wrong.  Those powers — which are specified in Article II, Section 3of the league’s Constitution — tend to be reserved for discipline and control of teams and employees. Business matters among the franchises, really, not on-the-field activities.

On-the-field, the Commissioner of Baseball would appear to have plenary power. He can deem an All-Star Game a tie. He has total control to grant or deny protests. He can make up stuff on the fly, just like he did with replay on boundary calls.  Technically speaking, there is no reason why Bud Selig can’t overturn the call, void anything that happened after it and grant Galarraga his perfect game.

Should Bud Selig reverse the call?  This is a toughie — and I’ll accept argument to the contrary, but my gut instinct is to say no.

What is accomplished by doing such a thing?  Galarraga doesn’t get to go back onto the field and have his teammates mob him.  The 17,738 people in Comerica Park for the game don’t get to come back together and cheer.  No highlight, no collective memory and no euphoria would be gained.  All that would be changed is a notation in a record book.

And doing so risks an awful lot.  Why retroactively overturn this call and not others?  Bad calls happen all the time.  Should Bud Selig be in the business of changing the outcomes of games in which outs were called on trapped balls?  Should he demand that a game be started over from the top of the sixth inning when the umpires missed a balk?  It’s an overused phrase, but it’s overused for a reason: where do you draw the line?

The funny thing here is that by keeping the call as-is — however unfair it might be — we may just be able to prevent just such a can of worms from ever being opened.  Why? Because if this game stands as a travesty — if Armando Galarraga remains a martyr, as it were — action may finally be spurred to implement instant replay.  And if that happens the right calls will be made almost every time and Bud Selig will never have to concern himself with this kind of thing again.

Another overused, but still-apt phrase springs to mind: you can’t un-ring a bell.  What happened tonight happened. Baseball has to deal with it.  No act of God or Bud can and should erase it. All baseball can do from it is to learn and, hopefully, improve.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: