Thursday, June 10, 2010

What am I missing?

Rob Neyer has been one of the few people defending Bud Selig's decision not to overturn Jim Joyce's safe call. Here he quotes Craig Wright who I will also quote:
You now know that the Commissioner is not going to change the call, which is absolutely the right decision. That would have been totally unprecedented and it would not really be in the spirit of the broad powers given to the Commissioner. The rules are very clear that this decision is to be the judgment of the umpire at that point in the game. What if it had been the other way around, that umpire Jim Joyce had called the batter out but the replay showed he was safe? Would you take away the perfect game and replay the game from that point somewhere down the road? No, of course not.
I love Rob and usually agree with him, but I do not understand people who are hiding behind the precedent argument.

First, as noted by Keith Olbermann, league officials have overruled umpires' calls on the field in the past. They've even done it when it means erasing the results of games and replaying them from the point of the bad call. Pine tar game, anyone? So the idea that this is without precedent is nonsense. You may not like the precedent, but it's already there.

Second, it's easy for the commish to overturn this call without establishing unwanted precedent. Simply say that you reserve the right to overturn any call that would not require the game to be replayed and would not alter the outcome of the game. There! Simple! The number of situations when this would apply are limited by definition to those situations when what's at stake is merely of historical interest and not of importance to the outcome of the game.

Note that this kind of rule means that you would not reverse the incorrect out call that preserves a perfect game. And that's fine. People clearly understand the difference between overturning a call that means a game has to be replayed and the outcome potentially changed and overturning a call that has none of these implications.

So I ask people who are using the precedent argument: what the hell am I missing?

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