The players like it imperfect

Posted on June 15, 2010


Here’s a quick follow-up to the Imperfect Game controversy I followed over far too many posts, starting here.

ESPN The Magazine conducted a (let us say, rather unscientific) poll of 100 major-league baseball players about their views on the umpires and the use of replay. The brief survey revealed three interesting results:

1. Despite the fact that the poll was taken after umpire Jim Joyce admitted his blown call had cost Galarraga his perfect game, 53% of the respondents named Joyce the best ump in the majors. “The sad thing about the Galarraga game is, Jim Joyce is seriously one of the best umpires around,” one player said. “He always calls it fair, so players love him. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s terrible that this happened to him.”

2. “The survey also found players lukewarm — at best — on replay. Only 22 percent of players favored replays for calls on the bases, and only 36 supported replay on fair/foul calls.”

3. “And only 13 percent thought Selig should have given Galarraga a perfect game despite Joyce’s botched call. Said one player: ‘As a pitcher, it was heartbreaking to see that. But the call had to be overturned on the field, not in the front office’.”

The players have spent most of their lives playing baseball — many will have played almost 12 months a year for years until they got to “the show.” And they know how long a 162-game season is. They fully expect the good and bad breaks to even out in the long haul.

It would be nice to add, “just like in life.” But in life, the good and bad breaks only even out when you find yourself living in the “major league” strata of your society. As the major-league comic Chris Rock once put it, “If you grow up calling your grandmother ‘mommy’ and your mother ‘Pam,’ you goin’ to jail!” And replay would do little to improve your chances. Especially in California.