Imperfect replay system is still better than none at all

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There is no greater love/hate relationship in all of sports than replay.

It is essential … and it is bothersome.

It increases integrity within the games … and slows them to a crawl.

It gets bad calls turned to good calls … except when it doesn’t.

And, as we saw Thursday at Citi Field, there are circumstances in which replay is available and would clearly show what the right call is … but for various reasons a play is not “reviewable.”

There really isn’t anything else like this. I think if you polled every sports fan in existence and asked them if they were in favor if replay, close to 95 percent would check the box “yes, absolutely” but would then look for a comments section.

And add: “only if it’s done with common sense.”

Look, the lack of replay has served as a genuine narrative throughout our lives as sports fans. The Giants were probably denied the 1958 championship because, late in regulation, an official grossly mismarked Frank Gifford’s forward progress. The Giants had to punt, the legend of Johnny U was born … and none of it would’ve happened in 2021 because replay would’ve given the Giants the title-clinching first down.

Sometimes it works out for the home team: With replay, both Reggie Jackson’s famous ‘”hip check” with the ball on the basepaths in the 1978 World Series would’ve been ruled interference. So would the Derek Jeter/Tony Tarrasco/Jeffrey Maier ball in the 1996 ALCS. J.C. Martin probably would’ve been ruled out of the baseline in Game 4 of the ’69 World Series, and who knows what repercussions that would’ve had for the Miracle Mets?

And if the foul at the end of Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals were subject to review, Hubert Davis almost certainly wouldn’t have gone to the line, from which he won the game, the Knicks probably wouldn’t have gone to the Finals and the Bulls might well have won a championship without Michael Jordan.

It is an endless pile of what-ifs, caused by no replay.

Now we have it, and if we are being honest about it, it is one of the great steps forward in sports history. Getting the call right is paramount. Getting the call right is everything. And mostly — not always, but mostly — replay gets it right.

It’s just that the road to right can be a tough one to negotiate.

The road to right means that the last two minutes of every important college basketball game can last for an hour, as every close baseline call is immediately reviewed. In the NBA, add the twist of coaches being able to use one challenge for any call during the course of a game, as well as the usual who-touched-the-ball-last debates.

Baseball? They’ve done a better job trying to speed the process along, but it isn’t always successful. And the elephant in the room is the automated ball-strike technology that already exists and will, at some point, be implemented. You think that will be a 100 percent good thing, but you also know how persnickety pitchers and hitters are about their strike zone. Who knows what misadventures this could lead to?

The bottom line, though, is that if we acknowledge that no system is perfect — and no system ever will be — the basic essence of replay is a good thing. Getting it right is a good thing. If we have to endure the quirks that go along with it, if it means games might last an extra five or 10 minutes … isn’t the point getting it right?

No matter how serpentine the road to right might seem?

Vac’s Whacks

Our man Mike Puma’s new book, “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Mets Dugout, Locker Room and Press Box” is like a 220-page version of one of Puma’s Mets stories in The Post — clever, smart, funny, with an obvious ear for charac-ters and storytelling. It’s a joy to read.

A warm salute to the Twitter handle @nonohitters, which used to take us through the Mets’ extended struggle with throwing a no-hitter, adopted the Padres after Johan Santana, and can now look back on a long and meritorious run after Joe Musgrave finally got one for San Diego on Friday.

I feel much better about the world knowing that Elliot Stabler is back on the job.

You can hear Knicks fans channeling Michael Corleone whenever they pull off a surprise like Friday’s splendid comeback at the Garden against the Grizzlies: “Just when I thought I was out …”

Whack Back at Vac

George Corchia: The MVP of the Mets’ first week is Michael Conforto’s elbow pad.

Vac: Ron Kulpa can present the trophy before Sunday’s game at Citi.

John Cobert: Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling — the best in the game proved it again with Michael Conforto’s HBP. Imagine the crew for any other team, in any sport, in any town being that honest and truthful.

Vac: It says something about Mets fans, too, that to a person they all seem united in this — they want honesty, not homerism.

@TimOShea1: I’d rather see Pennywise under my bed than Jeurys Familia on the mound.

@MikeVacc: That’s the greatest Mets slogan since “The Magic Is Back!”

Tim Eyster: Sorry, the most miraculous ending beyond Flutie’s heave (which shows your East Coast arrogance) is John Elway’s final college game at California, coached by Joe Kapp, playing the final game of their first 100 years of football. Elway gets the Cardinal ahead with seconds left, Cal’s seven laterals later, Kevin Moen runs thru the band to score. The ULTIMATE giving it the ol’ college try!

Vac: Suddenly, like Spinal Tap, I wish my list had gone to 11.

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