Thursday, June 3, 2010

Almost Perfect

Last night a baseball pitcher came one play away from pitching a perfect game. A bad call by an umpire on a play at first base prevented that from happening. In the aftermath there has been the uproar to use instant replay in such instances to prevent bad calls in the future.

It is true that technology exists to correct errors in judgment at sporting events. I watched the replay a few times at full speed and have to say that the play was very close and in the moment the call could have gone either way, in my estimation. Humans are not perfect, sometimes mistakes are made. It is too the umpire's credit that he made that call based upon his best perception of what took place without regard to the ongoing perfect game.

The problem I have is this. If they are going to use technology to try to make the game perfect, then go all the way. Why not set up some type of laser system to start calling balls and strikes. Why ask the third and first base umpires if a hitter went too far on a checked swing, set up a laser beam in front of home plate. Put sensors on the top of the outfield wall and the foul polls and the foul lines. Put a sensor in the bases, in the ball and on the players uniforms to register tags. Etc., etc., etc.

Or, in the alternative, leave the game alone. Baseball has existed since the late 1800s pretty much as it is today. There have been different eras come and go, but the basic game is as it has been. Part of the charm of baseball is that unlike a violent game like football, it is very pastoral, very friendly and very human. They players don't wear helmets that obscure their faces and body armor. The players interact with other players on the field, as well as, with the umpires. The game has no time constraints. The fans are invited in, not keep away.

Maybe, just maybe the game is perfect now. One more perfect game doesn't mean much in the cosmos of baseball. If the game could withstand the steroid era, it will survive this. Sometimes perfection comes with a few flaws. I know this to be true. I've been a Cubs fan since I was a kid.

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