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MLB & Instant Replay: Start It Tomorrow, Bud

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

What is it about the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals that brings out the best in random MLB pitchers? For the second time in a week and third time this young season, a pitcher held a perfect game through 26 outs. And for the third time this season, the pitcher induced Out #27.

Except this third time, it didn't count.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed of his rightful place in history last night due to a almost-comically bad call by umpire Jim Joyce. Galarraga got the Indians' Jason Donald to weakly ground out to first base, and the throw beat Donald to the bag by a solid step, even step-and-a-half. See for yourself:

Obvious blown call. One of the most obvious in my sports memory. History = denied.

So why should baseball players, coaches, and fans have to settle for second-rate officiating? The answer is we shouldn't.

(Side note: Why didn't Jim Leyland go out there and go completely berserk? The moment that the replay began on the big screen at Comerica, the manager should've bolted outta that dugout like George Brett in the Pine Tar Game. I know Leyland's getting up there in years, but had he told Galarraga to hold the ball and not throw another pitch...maybe Joyce would've seen the replay for himself and reversed his call. And yes, an umpire can do that.)

My proposal is simple. I tweeted it last night, and apparently ESPN's Jayson Stark is a follower: A manager gets one replay challenge per game. The challenge can be used on home run balls, fair-or-foul calls, force plays, or tag plays. That's it. Do we give managers a red hanky to throw like the NFL? I don't care. Make it a nacho helmet for all I care. Just do it, as soon as possible.

(Side note #2: And although I personally would like to see balls & strikes to be normalized by laser beams and computers, I understand that would be an incredibly jarring change to the way the game is played.)

Would it lengthen games? Technically, but barely. These sort of reviews would be very quickly judged when seen in slo-mo and hi-def...probably two or three minutes added to a game that's already 150-some minutes long. (Or in the case of a Yankees-Red Sox matchup, 671 minutes.)

In last night's Stanley Cup Final, the referees used replay twice to determine if the Philadelphia Flyers had scored goals on the Chicago Blackhawks. They correctly determined they scored on the first occasion, and correctly determined they didn't on the second. The total delay was about five minutes. Who's complaining about that delay today? Absolutely no one.

It's the year 2010. There's no excuse for ignoring technology that we have and already use for the sake of some "human element".

And if Bud Selig wants to do the right thing, he should overturn the call and set the record straight. After Joyce's blown call, batter #28 had a meaningless five-pitch at-bat that ended in a groundout. Nothing changed other than a dude's batting average dropping by a couple thosandths. And yes, the commissioner can do that. Remember that Pine Tar reference from about 400 words ago? It happened then, and it should happen now. This game should be a historically pivotal moment for baseball.

And I don't even like the Tigers, man.

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