The blown call on the last out of a perfect game that took a perfect game away from a pitcher has given new fuel to the instant replay debate. The call took a perfect game away from the pitcher because the perfect game was already completed when the call was made. The ball beat the runner to first base. The runner was out, but the ump called him safe after the play was made.
The big part of the debate is over the human element of the game. I'm glad that baseball has taken the "get it right" attitude on the field where other umpires can meet to review their own take on a play rather than let the offending umpire stew forever in his mistake. This allowance for an umpire conference upholds the human element - a traditional element at that - of the game. Baseball realizes that it is possible for human error, and also recognized that human error can be corrected on the spot. I wonder whether the other three umps could have overruled the erring ump to preserve the perfecto? Also, could the scorekeeper have, judging that the throw actually beat the runner, ruled the play an error on either the pitcher or first baseman to at least preserve a no-hitter? Would this not be included in the human element of the game?
But one thing baseball also recognizes is that some games or moments are more important than others. Not every play during every season has the same importance. For example, extra umpires are added down the foul lines for post-season and All-Star games, and extras are at the park just in case. Regular season games allow for ill or injured umpires to leave the game and go with three. I'll bring this difference of importance into another post coming soon.