I don’t often blog about sports. Sports writing is not my thing. There are others way better at it than I. But I’ve had a passion for the game of baseball since I was little and my dad took me to a couple of Expos games every summer (which, looking back, prepared me quite nicely for the perpetual disappointment that comes with being a Royals fan these days)
Yesterday’s quasi-perfect game in Detroit was a heartbreaker for any fan of baseball (especially Tigers fans), and certainly for the two people most closely involved: Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and MLB umpire Jim Joyce. Galarraga saw his perfect game evaporate in the split second that Joyce missed the ball beating the runner to first base (which, ironically, was being manned by none other than Galarraga).
Joyce has admitted he blew it. Galarraga has clearly forgiven Joyce for denying him a spot in the baseball record books. Both have handled this with grace and absolute class that are one of the great things about baseball. These two checked their egos and remembered, even in the heat of controversy that this is ultimately just a game.
There were cries from all corners for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to overturn the call and give Galarraga his perfect game. Today he declined to do so, much to the dismay of those fans. I think Selig did the right thing for the purity of the game. The umpires on the field are the ones making the calls, and they need to know without a doubt that the league, especially the commissioner, has their back. Overturning a call in response to public outcry is bad for the game. We can’t have umpires second-guessing themselves during the game, wondering if every call is going to get appealed up the chain.
Even worse, Selig overturning the call would have set an ugly precedent that would likely ultimately lead to video replays in baseball, and that would be a the greatest tragedy to hit baseball since the strikes and night games at Wrigley. Gone would be the drama of managers going up and arguing a bad call, only to have the umpire stand is ground and stick to his decision. There’s no second-guessing in this game. You may think the umpire’s call sucks, but human fallibility is an essential part of baseball, or any sport for that matter.Never mind that video replay would slow the already quite leisurely pace of the game to a crawl.
Ultimately, Galarraga knows he pitched a perfect game, regardless of what ends up in the history books. Joyce admitted he blew it. But then again, these two have achieved something that they otherwise wouldn’t have if it had been a perfect game just like the other twenty (two of which happened in the last month!!). These two have inadvertently (but symbiotically) achieved a great honor: They’re now going to be a part of baseball and sports trivia and will be talked about by fans for years. What more could a ball player ask for?