Hyperreal Baseball

Hyperreal Baseball June 7, 2010

Everyone has weighed in on Jim Joyce’s blown call at first base last week, a call which cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a potential perfect game.  And by everyone, I mean that there are 6,300 articles on Google News about it and 300,000 blog posts.  As a former umpire with 20+ years behind the plate, here are my thoughts:

1) If Joyce were to blow a call, it should have been in Galarraga’s favor. What I mean is, going into the 9th inning of a perfect game, he should have called a guy out who was safe by half-a-step.  He should have been saying in his mind going into that inning, “If it’s close, the runner is out.”  Why?  Because you don’t want to be the guy who blows the perfect game.

2) Of course Bud Selig should not “overrule” the call and award Galarraga a perfect game. Why?  Because the commissioner should not get involved with on-the-field play that does not affect a team’s record.  And this call made no difference in the game.  It only made a difference to a pitcher (and his agent), who likely has a clause in his contract which pays him a bonus if he pitches a perfect game.

3) Keep replay the hell out of baseball. There are few things I despise more than coming back from a 4-minute commercial break in an NFL game and seeing the referee still under the hood.  Baseball is rife with what umpires call “bang-bang plays” at first base, not to mention close sliding plays at the other bases.  Replay would slow down what it already the slowest major sport there is, and sure disrupt the rhythm that makes baseball special.

4) There’s no crying in baseball. Yet Joyce did cry, both after the game when he apologized to Galarraga in the locker room, and the next day when Galarraga brought the starting line-up card to Joyce at home plate.  Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that whole meeting at home plate was scripted.  And don’t forget that just moments before, Galarraga was given a $75K red, convertible Corvette by (taxpayer-owned) General Motors.

Jimmy Dugan said it best:

With this incident, I submit that baseball has entered into the realm of the hyperrealJean Baudrillard defined the hyperreal as a world in which we consume copies for which their are no originals.  In other words, the reality of baseball has so exceeded anything that Abner Doubleday invented, that it no longer bears any resemblance to the original.

Crying umpires, pitchers missing out on contractual bonuses, and publicly financed automakers giving away sports cars at homeplate — not to a winning fan, but to a highly paid player.  Baseball is, as Baudrillard would say, “The simulation of something which never really existed.”

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