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ACM Opinion

Against Instant Replay


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Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Extraordinary cases make bad law. In a sense, Armando Galarraga’s non-perfect perfect game, spoiled by an umpire’s call on what should have been the 27th out, offers the strongest possible exhibit for expanding instant replay’s role in baseball. Who wouldn’t want to have seen Galaragga take his rightful place in the history books, making this remarkable baseball season--whose first two months have already featured two perfect games and a no-hitter--more remarkable still?

And after watching the post-game agony of Jim Joyce, a distinguished umpire whose career will be forever marred by this one unforgivable call, who would deny the next disastrously-erring ump the chance to watch a replay on a video monitor and make the whole thing right?

But extraordinary cases make bad law. There’s a reason that sportswriters immediately reached for Don Denkinger’s botched “safe” call in the 1985 World Series, which sent the Cardinals tailspinning to defeat, as the closest analogy to what happened last night--because blown calls this high-stakes and this egregious are exceptional, once-in-a-decade events. (The particular circumstances of last night’s call will probably never recur in my lifetime.) Whereas the solution to the problem--some kind of football-style system, in which managers get one or two replay “challenges” per game--would affect almost every baseball contest, week in and week out, across the entire 162-game season.

From The New York Times
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