One man’s imperfection costs another his chase at perfection. The
statement basically and accurately sums up the historic implications of
Jim Joyce’s blown call on the would-be final out of Tigers pitcher
Armando Galarraga’s would-be perfect game on June 2.
For those of you who not familiar with what will undoubtedly go down as
one of the worst calls in the history of Major League Baseball, lets
recreate the scene. In just his fourth appearance since being recalled
from the minor leagues on May 16, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando
Galarraga had set down all 26 of the Cleveland Indians he had faced and
was looking to record the final out and post MLB’s 21st perfect game and
its third in less than a month.
Up to the plate comes Cleveland’s Jason Donald representing the Indians
last chance to break up Galarraga’s no-hitter and the only man standing
in the way of him and a spot in the history books. Or so he thought.
That was until first base umpire Jim Joyce emerged as the biggest
obstacle standing in the way of him and perfection. Donald hits a ground
ball to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. The ball carries Cabrera far from
the first base bag but Galarraga outraces Donald to the bag and he
hauls in Cabrera’s throw in time to beat Donald to the base by a half a
step. Galarraga jumps in the air and signals out but his jubilation
quickly turns to frustration as he notices Joyce has emphatically, yet
incorrectly signaled Donald safe.
The crowd showers the field with boos and Galarraga’s teammates argue
the call with Joyce. The replay is shown on the scoreboard and it’s
clear to see that Joyce blew the call. Galarraga regains his composure
long enough to eventually record the final out and depart the
roller-coaster ride of emotions with his one-hit shutout intact.
In the post-game interviews both Galarraga and Joyce handled the
unfortunate incident with class. Joyce made it a point to find the
disappointed pitcher and console him for what Joyce admitted was the
wrong call. And to his credit, Joyce painstakingly answered question
after question regarding his now infamous decision.
“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the (stuff) out of
it,” Joyce said, looking and sounding distraught as he paced in the
umpires’ locker room. “I just cost that kid a perfect game. I
thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I
saw the replay.”
If only MLB had instituted instant replay prior to the season. If only
MLB had gotten its head out the sand long enough to realize that its
tradition-filled game would better served with technology working hand
in hand with the umpiring crews to do what we all want — get the calls
correct. If only MLB would have followed the lead of all the other major
sports and adopted instant replay in a greater form we wouldn’t be
racking our brains to find a way to provide Galarraga the justice he
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has been steadfast against the use of replay
and only in the last few years after several controversies occurred did
he swallow his pride and allow replay to be used on a limited basis.
Well Bud, here’s your chance to make fans forget your numerous blunders
(taking a blind eye to the ever-growing steroid use in the late 1980s
and throughout the 1990s, the work stoppage of 1994, the 2002 All-Star
Game tie, the list goes on) that have occurred during your
administration and do the right thing.
Here’s the idea: call an executive meeting and get all the owners and
player reps on a conference call sometime today. Take a vote so
everything is official and announce the results. The vote will
undoubtedly be in favor of overturning Joyce’s call which would then
give Galarraga the perfect game he justly deserves. It can go down in
the official records with an asterisk next to it describing this
“controversial call” and its implications in providing MLB with instant
replay on a grander scale and on a permanent basis moving forward, and
best of all, you come out looking like the hero.
While baseball historians will likely shutter at the idea of overturning
a call on the field and setting such a unique precedent, tell them to
get over themselves and wake up and smell the new millennium. For
decades baseball ruled and its quirky, outdated ways were tolerated and
even applauded for their traditional values. But in case you haven’t
noticed Mr. Selig, your beloved game is running a distant second to the
NFL in terms of popularity and it could use any kind of shot in the arm a
logical decision like this could provide.