It’s a bad call. No doubt about it. Of course, I mean introducing instant replay into baseball as well as the call in the Angels-Yankees game.
Yes, the ump should have called both Yankee players out rather than just one because neither had a foot on the bag when tagged. But to introduce instant replay to fix this or other errors in baseball officiating would make things worse than the problem it is meant to correct.
Officials are human and will make mistakes. In the absence of corruption or bias (and there is no reason to assume that the men in blue are generally corrupt or biased), errors will be distributed randomly. In the long run, they should even themselves out and no team should have a particular advantage.
It’s true that a particular call made at a particular moment will seem to alter the outcome of a game, series, or championship. But the truth is that every call in every game has some minute effect on the outcome of that game and potentially a series or championship. If any call went a different way, players and coaches could make different decisions about pitches to throw, ways to swing, players to substitute, etc… Life is a string of choices; changing any one — no matter how small — might change all subsequent ones — including big ones. In general, the best we can hope for is that errors in officiating are rare and unbiased.
Introducing instant replay might correct some errors, but it certainly wouldn’t be practical to try to use it to review all potential errors in officiating. And since any call — even the one not at what seems like the pivotal moment — can alter the outcome of the game, the outcome can still be altered by errors unless all calls are reviewed. And even if they are reviewed, there can be errors in the review. In short, there is no way to remove errors from officiating.
Even if we tried to reduce error by reviewing certain calls, we couldn’t always know which calls really would influence the outcome of the game. What’s more, instant replay reviews significantly slow down a sporting event and interfere with the play and enjoyment of that sport.
People need some perspective. It’s a game. It’s meant as entertainment. We should no sooner have instant replay reviews of baseball calls than judges’ votes in So You Think You Can Dance. Let’s just assume that officials are acting in good faith and errors are a matter of chance, just as chance can influence whether the ball hits a seam and bounces in a strange direction.
But I suspect that discomfort with chance in life is part of the demand for instant replay. To many people randomness feels like injustice — especially when that randomness goes against their interests. There are no accidents in this view of the world, someone is responsible for everything that happens, and all wrongs must be righted. An unwillingness to accept the reality of chance can lead to a headlong pursuit of justice that causes much more injustice.