Replays and Contingency

Last week the baseball crowd was all agitated again about another blown call, this one putting an end to a very long, 19 inning game between Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Too bad, that could have been an endless game in the making. This was, according to the critics, yet another glaring example of why baseball needs more use of instant replay. In this case, it would have been evident that the umpire missed the call and it could have been reversed.  But wait, reverse to what? That's not easy in a game as complex as baseball. In this case the bad call is at the end of a play. Going back is not a simple thing. As Phil Mushnick pointed out, "There were men on second and third, one out. The batter, pitcher Scott Proctor, after grounding to third, fell on his face a few feet out of the box. Had Meals made the right call, the likelihood of a home-to-first double play was strong."  So is the inning over? But you can't give an out that was only likely to be made. Many different things could have happened.  Trying to determine on what kind of plays you should allow instant replay quickly becomes a messy proposition. We've got some contingency going on here and "instant replay" is not an idea that values contingency. Sometimes we just get it wrong. Our universe seems to be like that. Long ago, God made a bad call. It seems she had already decided there would be no instant replay. So she messed up, give her a break. I still think it's better than a rain out. My Aunt Jo taught me never to leave a game early, no matter how lopsided the score. You just never know... (I went with her a couple of times to Shea Stadium. A young Tom Seaver! Jerry Koosman! Ed Kranepool!)  Anyway, that's my thought for today: the game is not over and that's a very good thing. And another thing: contingency itself is contingent.

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