The Perfect Game that wasn’t….

By on June 3

Heartbreaking. There’s no other word to describe what happened to Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga last night. In case you missed it, Galaragga had pitched 8 2/3 innings of perfect baseball, meaning he had allowed no hits or walks. He was merely one out away from completing a perfect game and becoming only the 21st pitcher in the history of baseball to do so. And then this happened….

Sorry about the quality, this is one of the only videos of this left on Youtube

As the slow-motion replays at the end of the video clearly show, the batter was out. Meaning that while in reality Armando Galarraga had pitched a perfect game, it would not go down history that way and he would denied his place among the other great pitchers to accomplish this feat. What makes it even more sad is that after the game the umpire himself, Jim Joyce, admitted that he blew the call and acknowledged the gravity of his mistake, saying “I just cost that kid a perfect game.” He apparently also personally apologized to Armando Galarraga and was visibly in tears while doing so. Certainly he should be commended for his candor and honesty.

But is that all? Should we just accept that an umpire made a tragic mistake and move on? Or can something be done about it? Better yet, should something be done about it?

Well, the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, has already made up his mind. While he claims he will make an earnest attempt to “examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features”, he will not overturn the call. Though he never comes out and says so, presumably the reasoning behind this decision is that if he overturns this call, then it opens up a Pandora’s box where many other questionable calls of the past would need to be reviewed as well, potentially rewriting the history of the game. And thus the integrity of the game, the finality of its outcomes, would collapse, so the argument goes. Stare decisis at its purest.

For what it’s worth, this is also the position current Orioles manager Dave Trembley expressed, saying “..You do for this and you’re not going to do it for something else? You going to go back for 1985 with the Royals and St. Louis and Don Denkinger at first base and you going or review that and reward the World Series to the other team? They can’t do it. My opinion, Dave Trembley, my opinion. Can’t do it.”

While I can certainly see the merits of that argument, ultimately I disagree with it. I think the strongest reason is that while reversing this call could lead to requests to review other blown calls from the past, I think what is far more damaging to the integrity of the game is to let the wrong call stand. To me, letting the history of the game say something other than what we all know really happened is what really cheapens it, what makes us all feel like we were robbed of something when we watch that video.

Of course, the counter argument is how can you overturn this call and not others? There’s no simple answer, but I would submit that just because you can’t fix every mistake doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix any of them. Maybe Bud Selig doesn’t have the right to review things from before his time as commissioner, but for something that has happened now, under his tenure, and which clearly was a mistake, he has the power to make it right. I believe he should exercise that power. And yes, even if that means setting a precedent that under certain exceptional circumstances, the Commissioner of Baseball can overturn a call.

At some point, I simply believe we have to make a commitment to getting things right, otherwise people will always use the fact that there have been blown calls in the past as a justification for not redressing the current one. Personally, that’s a cycle I’d like to break.

What do you think?

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2 Responses to “The Perfect Game that wasn’t….”

  1. Casadilla says:

    Tragic indeed.

    In time, I believe something similar to the review system in american football will emerge in baseball. Each manager gets a handful of challenges in a game or series, and uses them at their discretion. The biggest question then becomes what plays can be challenged?

    In an era where technology has taken us to new levels of perfection, baseball’s rules appear severely antiquated compared to the rest of the sports world. I think the consumers will demand reply’s expansion in time.

  2. Damien Clark says:

    No post about one of the greatest players ever Retiring??

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