This is an out.
Here’s one more gigantic reason why baseball is no longer America’s national pastime.
Last night, a kid named Armando Galarraga was flat out robbed of having his name etched in the history books forever, and the genius who has overseen the steroid era, an All Star Game that ended in a tie, and the economic situation that has ruined the competitive balance of the league – Commissioner Bud Selig – has chosen not to rectify the situation.
Galarraga was one final out away from throwing the 21st “perfect game” in baseball history. Since 1876, almost 400,000 major league baseball games have been played. There have been 20 perfect games. That means the pitcher allowed no hits, no walks, no batters reaching on error, no hit batsmen, no nothing. 27 outs without a single blemish. 20 times. In 400,000. There is almost nothing in sports more unlikely or more difficult to accomplish.
But last night, Armando Galarraga did it. The 27th batter he faced hit a ground ball between first and second. First baseman Miguel Cabrera fielded the ball and threw over to Galarraga who was covering first base. The throw beat the runner by half a step. Perfect game!! History!! But no. Jim Joyce, the veteran umpire stationed behind first base, called the runner safe. Galarraga got the next man out to end the game. Video replay showed that Joyce was more than just a little wrong.
Baseball umpires are very, very good at their jobs. The ability to get those calls right almost all the time is truly incredible. But the fact is that he got it wrong. He got it wrong and the result is that a person whose life is committed to one singular effort has had what will likely be his only chance at the most prolific feat in professional sports stolen from him. Selig could correct this phenomenal blunder with a signature but he has refused to do it, which is the height of cruelty and a blind adherence to what he believes to be principle. Unfortunately, it really is just another dumbass move in a career of dumbass moves.
Remarkably, if Galarraga’s effort had been recognized for what it was, it would’ve been the third perfect game of the 2010 season. The second was only 4 days prior. There haven’t been two perfect games in the same year since 1880, much less three, and that barely even counts. There were only, like, three teams. They might as well have played with rocks back then. They probably played the whole game with one baseball. If you fouled the ball off too far, the game was over.
At the end of the day, everyone knows that Galarraga pitched a perfect game. People can try to be big about it and say that’s enough, but it’s just not. People can argue that if the call happened in the 3rd inning, no one would’ve said anything about it. That might be true, it might not. But the fact is, it didn’t happen in the 3rd inning. It happened in the 9th inning, on the third out. The game result didn’t change.
There’s no excuse for Selig not overturning the call. Whoever thinks he’s doing it to somehow protect the integrity of the game or the umpires is just wrong. It’s 2010. The technology available could make it possible to never get a call wrong. There’s no excuse for not having instant replay available. It’s used for certain homerun calls, but they refuse to do it on the bases or for balls and strikes.
Players, fans, and even the umpires – perhaps especially the umpires – want to see the correct calls made. Jim Joyce’s day would be a lot better today if instant replay had simply overruled him and the runner was called out, preserving Galarraga’s claim to perfection. As is stands, Joyce’s family is getting threats. Obviously, that’s terrible. A simple video replay could’ve prevented it all.
But so could Bud Selig making one single declarative statement that the man was out, that the call is reversed for the good of the game, and that Galarraga indeed pitched a perfect game. Anything less is just another in a long series of absolutely atrocious moves by a man who has overseen the decline of baseball in almost every regard. It’s truly sad.
Especially for Galarraga.