Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Problem of Pursuing Perfection

Major League Baseball, concerned that umpires occasionally make errors, is considering making use of instant replay to review decisions involving whether a ball has left the field of play. One hopes that those seeking perfection in umpiring decision making will remember that the most common criticism that the general public has of baseball does not involve the competence of umpires, but the pace of the game. Indeed, George Will is right that baseball stands in danger of becoming more like football in its most unflattering aspect:

In the NFL, coaches' challenges, which trigger replays, contribute to the sense that a game consists of about seven minutes of action -- seriously: Use a stopwatch, and you will confirm that -- encrusted with three hours of pageantry, hoopla and instant-replay litigation.

That's the NFL. The onslaught of replay has had an even worse effect on college football, whose games rarely end in less than three and a half hours any more.

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