Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced today that he would not overturn Jim Joyce’s blown call from last night’s game and give Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga credit for a perfect game.
As most of the world knows by now, Galarraga had one out to go for a perfect game. Indians shortstop Jason Donald was all that stood between Galarraga and the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Donald hit a ground ball that forced Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera to his right; Cabrera threw to Galarraga covering first and retired Jason Donald by a full stride. The only problem was that first base umpire Jim Joyce inexplicably called Donald safe. Even Donald appeared disappointed in the call as he put his hands on his head and walked back to first base in a stunned fashion.
The Internet, talk shows and newspapers exploded almost instantly. Particularly after the replay was shown, it was apparent that Galarraga had missed a perfect game due solely to a bad call by Joyce. Many, including New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, implored Selig to effectively reverse the call and give Galarraga credit for a perfect game. Today, Selig said that he has decided not to do so; the record will show that Galarraga pitched a one hitter against the Cleveland Indians.
As a long time baseball fan, I believe Selig made the right call. While it is tempting to try and right a wrong after the fact and give Galarraga what he earned, doing so would have opened a Pandora’s Box of sorts and made many future calls the subject of debate after the game has ended.
If Selig had decided to reverse the call and give Galarraga credit for a perfect game, what would happened if a game was decided by a bad call? Would Selig reverse that call too and give the losing team a win? Probably not, but it would it would present a no win situation for baseball as a perfect game would be perceived as important enough to intervene on but a big game, maybe even a World Series game, would be decided on the field.
Perfect games require a lot of things. Mostly, they require an excellent performance by the pitcher. Galarraga provided that. They also usually require great fielding performances. Tiger centerfielder Austin Jackson provided that with a great catch in the ninth inning. Finally, perfect games require a little bit of luck. Galarraga unfortunately came up short on that front as Jim Joyce clearly made the wrong call.
Justice is not always evenly served in sports. Quirky things happen all the time. And while Jim Joyce should be expected to do his job better, the fact is that bad calls are part of the game. I’ve said that baseball should consider implementing instant replay to correct bad calls. But when the game is played according to a certain set of rules, those rules should apply throughout, not just when everything goes smoothly.
Galarraga, for his part, conducted himself with grace, dignity and class. He did not react strongly on the field during the game and accepted Jim Joyce’s apology graciously after the game. He also brought the lineup card out to Joyce before today’s game, for which Joyce was behind home plate. In many ways, Galarraga was as perfect after the game as he was during it, and really, that’s a big part of what sports is supposed to be about.
Kudos to Bud Selig for leaving an imperfect game alone and not overturning the call. We all know that Galarraga pitched well enough to be credited with a perfect game, whether the record books show it or not.
Source: Mark Bradley, “Bud Selig gets one right: The imperfect call stands”,