You play 162 games, you spend $100 million on players, you convince 3 million fans to buy tickets and parking and overpriced stale beer, you get to the playoffs. …
And you lose, because (a) six pairs of umpiring eyes can't see the obvious and (b) there is no replay, for the simple reason that, well, there is no replay.
Ignorance can be addressed. Obsolescence can be updated. But irrationality has no cure.
Especially when it happens year after year in baseball's postseason.
Here is the litany so far.
On Sunday, the Giants and Padres played for the N.L. West title. Andres Torres led off for the Giants and smoked a triple that kicked up chalk from the left-field line. Mike Everitt called it foul. A box camera with black-and-white film would have reversed that call. Torres wound up with a base hit but the Giants did not score.
On Wednesday, Yankees right fielder Greg Golson made a diving catch with two out in the ninth inning, but the Twins' Delmon Young was given a single. Umpires Hunter Wendelstedt and Greg Gibson both got a good look and saw the same wrong thing. Mariano Rivera cleaned up anyway and the Yankees won, 6-4, but Mark Teixeira later said, "We had to get four outs," and manager Joe Girardi said he favored an expansion of replay.
On Thursday, San Francisco's Buster Posey tried to steal second in the fourth inning. Atlanta second baseman Brooks Conrad appeared to tag him before Posey's foot hit second. Umpire Paul Emmel ruled Posey safe, and Posey scored on Cody Ross' single. That is why the Giants won, 1-0.
We should be marveling at the remarkable events of these four Division Series. Instead, we've filed away Roy Halladay's no-hitter and we're ripping the umpires again, as we did throughout the 2009 playoffs.
The argument against replaying base calls and other disputed plays is that it is not necessary. But neither are the Conan promos.
And do we really need to bring up Jim Joyce and Don Denkinger?
Why does major league baseball go to such great lengths to make every game available on our phones, and yet ignores much simpler technology that would ensure fairness in the games that matter most?
It would be different if no other sport already had dipped its toe into the replay cauldron. Instead, the NBA, the NHL, the NFL and pro tennis all use replay and can't imagine life without it. Soccer and baseball don't, and officiating incompetence was the theme of the 2010 World Cup.
Replay has made tennis grow up. No longer does an aggrieved player demolish his racket and insult the parentage of the linesmen when a call goes awry. Instead, he calmly signals for a challenge. They put it on the big board. It's either in or out. Case closed. Crowd-pleasing justice; what could be better?
In 1999, Brett Hull scored in phantom fashion to give Dallas the Stanley Cup in Buffalo. Today that goal would either be disallowed or unquestioned, thanks to goal-line replays.
In the NFL replay has become part of the strategic fabric. A strange play happens. The head coach frantically asks his assistants what they saw upstairs. The other team sprints and tries to snap the ball to invoke the statute of imitations. And the plaintiff weighs whether to throw the red challenge towel and risk a timeout that might be needed later.
To lose all that would be unthinkable. But football just as easily could have gone ostrich, as baseball has.
Baseball wouldn't need challenges. Whenever the umpires need help, they would call New York, the way the hockey refs call Toronto, and check the replay. Base calls and catches should be fair (or foul) game.
It's increasingly hard to remember this, but you don't play the games to sell disposable razors or establish one's "brand." You play to find a champion. Replay improves the likelihood of that.
Besides, as everyone used to say, a replay system would show us just how good the officials are. Officially, we'll go with that, even though October demonstrates the opposite is true.