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The Human Element

Everyone’s talking about the umpire who ruined the perfect game today, so I figure I might as well join the chorus.

I love baseball. I think it’s an inherently perfect game. And part of that perfection includes human error. Whether it’s a boneheaded base-running play, a second baseman with a serious case of the yips, or a ridiculously bad call by an umpire, these errors are part of what makes baseball baseball.

Armando Galarraga, whose name is really fun to say, pitched a hell of a game last night. But the umpire blew a call. So it wasn’t a perfect game. I think that’s amazing.

So far, Major League Baseball Commissioner-For-Life Bud Selig has resisted reversing the call that didn’t end the game the way it should have. I hope he sticks to his guns. If history is any guide, Bud will figure out some way to screw this up so that no one’s happy with the outcome.

I want the umpires to have a lot of leeway. These guys are amazing. When I see replays on TV, I’m floored that they get so many calls right. This shit is happening fast, and they’re making calls on the fly. I don’t want umpires to use instant replay. I want to see a variable strike zone. I want to see them blow the call once in a while. I want to see fired up managers and players arguing with the umpires, and the umpires arguing right back.

How great is it that, with two outs in the 9th during a perfect game, the umpire called exactly what he thought he saw? The easy thing would’ve been to give in to history and call the runner out, since it was close, and no one would’ve blamed the guy. It also would’ve been exactly the opposite of what an umpire gets paid to do. He did his job last night. Sure, he blew the call. But he was right to make it. He’s also right to feel pretty shitty about it.

Armando Galarraga shouldn’t get credit for a perfect game last night. Because it wasn’t. Instead of being perfect, Armando’s a part of one of the most memorable events/fall-outs in baseball history. It wasn’t perfect. It was wonderful.

It’s our humanity and all its imperfections that are perfect. And so is baseball.

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