Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Both Armando Galarraga and the Game of Baseball Deserve Better Than This

By now, baseball fans across the nation have seen the video, and the photographic evidence. Armando Galarraga was robbed of a once in a lifetime opportunity – a perfect game. He was robbed of a very special place in the record books. And he was robbed before our eyes, for the whole world to see.

Umpire Jim Joyce admits he blew the call.

"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce said after the game. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."

"It was the biggest call of my career," said Joyce, with regret.

All of the Tigers were either stunned or outraged, except for Galarraga, who simply and quietly went back to work as the Detroit crowd booed angrily. Galarraga's manager, Jim Leyland, and his teammates gave Joyce an earful, letting their opinions be heard loud and clear.

"I don't blame them a bit or anything that was said," Joyce said. "I would've said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would've been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me."

That just proves that Galarraga is a class act. He deserves better than this. And Joyce's contrition doesn't change the fact that Galarraga will forever live with this unfortunate injustice.

Yet, it was entirely correctable. By the time of Joyce's miscall, 26 consecutive outs had been recorded. And on the play in question, it is abundantly clear that the 27 out was also recorded, without any hitter truly reaching base.

MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig had a chance to make this right for Galarraga, his teammates, the game of baseball, and for posterity. Selig knows what the rest of us know; Jason Donald was out and Galarraga earned a perfect game fairly and squarely.

Yet, Selig has announced that he will not overturn the incorrect call, right this wrong, and award Galarraga his perfect game. The only thing Selig has agreed to review is instant replay, which should already be in effect anyway.

Baseball is a game of history and tradition that goes back a century-and-a-half. And it is rightly proud of most of it. Yet, we are now living in the 21st Century, not the !9th. It's long since time for instant replay. All of the other major sports employ it, and neither history nor tradition is more important than getting the right call. The game and its players deserve it.

The bottom line is that the fans at home watching instant-replay on TV, and those in the stands viewing the Jumbotron, shouldn't know what an umpire doesn't, yet should, know. Within moments, even they can easily see the error of their ways, yet they can't overturn an erroneous call. That's inexcusable. The best thing about instant reply is that it is instant.

Galarraga is the most unlikely pitcher to throw a near-perfect game. He's 28 and was just recalled from Triple-A Toledo on May 16 after pitching poorly during spring training. He lost out in a competition for the final spot in the rotation to Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson, both of whom have since been traded.

But on one night he was perfect. Yet Jim Joyce wasn't. And that's okay. It's understandable. To err is human. It's widely noted that nobody is perfect. But last might, Armando Glarraga was.

This injustice was fixable. But Bud Selig chose history and tradition over honesty and integrity, not to mention modern technology. We've learned a lot about Galarraga and Joyce from this unfortunate event. As for Bud Selig, this only reinforces what we already knew; he is stubborn, rigid, and stuck in the past.

The record books may indicate that only 20 perfect games have been thrown in MLB history, and incredibly two of them were this year – a first. Yet everyone now knows that there was a 21st last night. Armando Galarraga, and his perfect performance on one June night, will not be forgotten by history.

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