Use instant replay or pitch tracking technology on balls and strikes and Matt Cain probably doesn’t get his perfect game for San Francisco a few weeks ago, when some of the strike calls in the later innings seemed charitable at best. Nothing new there, since Don Larsen got a questionable call in his favor on the final strike of his perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
On the flip side, Armando Galarraga would have had a perfect game for Detroit two years ago if umpire Jim Joyce made the right call on what should have been the 27th out of the game. Replays showed Galarraga got the out at first base just ahead of the runner, but he was called safe and the perfect game and no-hitter were history.
Football has spoiled us with instant replay, making us believe all calls eventually are made correctly even when that isn’t always so. Television cameras in the high definition age can do wondrous things, but there are still some calls so borderline and some angles so awkward that nothing is 100 percent certain.
Sure, instant replay may right some wrongs. But it takes away some of the magic of the game; some of the things that are as traditional about baseball as hot dogs and cold beer.
I’d rather watch a player or manager get in a losing argument with an umpire about a disputed call than watch all four umpires huddle around a TV screen to see if they got it right. I also have no problem accepting what might be a bad call against a team I’m rooting for because baseball history tells us that down the road my team will get a call it may not deserve.
Even the Indians couldn’t get too excited over the act Wise pulled off in the first row down the left-field line. Secretly, they probably applauded the sales job, wishing they could do the same.
The Yankees got an out they shouldn’t. The umpires showed again they’re not always perfect.
Somehow, baseball survived, just as it always has.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org