Baseball needs many things.

Less time between pitches. A new strike zone. A ban on maple bats. More daylight postseason games. A replacement for Joe West.

But if there's one thing it needs less than a Roger Clemens comeback, it's instant replay.

Demands to institute some sort of electronic-eye system surfaced again recently when umpires reversed a foul-pole home run at Yankee Stadium.

So what?

The missed call is as much a part of baseball and its traditions as rhubarbs, brushback pitches, and Tony La Russa's ego.

It's what makes baseball baseball.

If you're looking instead for perfection, put on your pajamas and go play MVP Baseball 2008 on your basement computer. Or team up with 50 other geeks and join a fantasy league.

It's baseball.

Real fans love to moan about bad calls, love to berate umpires, love to imagine scenarios in which our team, save for that awful call in the ninth inning, would have won the big game.

We love bad calls.

You could argue, in fact, that the baseball moments people best remember, the plays they continue to talk about for decades, are umpiring mistakes. They're eternal talking points.

Everyone in New York and Baltimore remembers how Richie Garcia screwed up the Jeffrey Maier incident. Bruce Froemming never failed to elicit boos when he worked a Phillies game thanks to his Black Friday boo-boo. Not too many people could name the '85 Series winner, but mention Don Denkinger and you'll get an instant response.

How much poorer would the lore of the game be if those moments were eliminated? If Earl Weaver had never had the opportunity to argue? If Eric Gregg's strike zone hadn't been the size of a screen door?

Baseball isn't football, a game where instant replay works.

It's more quirky, more folksy, more human.

It's not a game filled with complex plays, overanalysis, and dictatorial coaches living out their unfulfilled military ambitions.

That's why baseball has yet to produce a Bill Belichick.

Cheating is kind of cool in baseball.

You can steal signs with your eyes and your brain. You don't need a videographer.

If you can scuff the ball out of view of the umpire, more power to you.

An umpire, in all his blessed humanity, is a character in a baseball game, just like the screwball lefty, the free-swinging cleanup hitter, or the noisy hot dog vendor.

Tamper with that tradition and you mess with the game itself.

Make baseball infallible and it's just not baseball anymore.

NASCAR note of the week.

NASCAR.Com's preview of this weekend's race in Dover included Delaware travel advice from the sport's fans. Here's one from an astute e-mailer whose screen name is Harpers57:

"First stock your camper with beer and/or alcohol. You can buy it there if you have to. Find the university and go across the street; there you can stuff your face at any number of restaurants. Or if you run out of food, there's an Acme supermarket right there. Then if you have any money left, go in the casino."

Five scary moments for Phillies fans.

1. Hearing Sean Hannity plug the radio broadcasts between innings. 2. Seeing Clay Condrey up in the bullpen. 3. Watching Pat Burrell try to score from second base on a triple. 4. Watching Pat Burrell try to score from third base on a triple. 5. Showing up at Citizens Bank Park and finding out it's Dollar Dog Night.

Anybody but Boston.

Anyone who grew up in Philadelphia rooting for the Warriors or for Wilt's or Dr. J's Sixers has to be rooting for Detroit in the NBA's Eastern Conference finals.

I'm one of those people who is constitutionally incapable of ever rooting for the Celtics.

That's because I will never be able to excise from my psyche the vision of a sneering Red Auerbach obnoxiously lighting another victory cigar.

Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick

at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.