From Galaraga To Edu: The Ten Biggest Blown Calls In Sports History
On June 2nd, Armando Gallaraga was one out from a perfect game when the umpire, Jim Joyce, called Jason Donald safe on an easy ground ball.
After looking at the replay, there was no doubt Donald was out. In other words, Joyce cost Gallaraga his chance at history.
On June 18th, there was another bad blown call in sports. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the United States was playing Slovenia in a crucial Group C Match. The score was tied and Maurice Edu seemed to score the go ahead goal in the 86th minute.
Instead of giving the USA a much deserved 3-2 victory, the referee, Koman Coulibaly, called off the goal. Upon viewing the replay, there were no offsides or fouls and the goal should have been counted.
These two incidents made me think where Jim Joyce's and Koman Coulibaly's calls rank in the top ten blown calls in sports history (to give you a hint, neither is number one).
There are some famous calls on this list, and others that will surprise you
10: Thanksgiving Day Coin Flip Flap
Who would have ever guessed a referee would mess up something as simple as a coin flip?
In 1999, the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. The game went into overtime. For the coin toss, Jerrome Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers called "tails" but the referee thought otherwise.
In the heat of the moment, referee Phil Luckett, thought he heard Bettis say "heads" and when the coin landed on "tails", he awarded Detroit the ball first.
This coin-flip allowed the Detroit Lions to win a critical football game and forever changed the coin-flip in professional sports.
9: Thierry Henry's Handball
In November 2009, France battled Ireland in a World Cup qualifying match. The game was extremely important to both sides, especially the Irish.
If Ireland won, the team would make the World Cup. If Ireland lost, it would be sent home empty handed
Ireland managed to battle the powerful French team throughout regulation and into overtime.
During overtime, the French had a free kick, and the ball was passed to Henry. Henry then used his hand to regain control of the ball and score the game winning goal.
And the referee, Martin Hansson, did nothing about it.
The Irish were heartbroken. The team played one of its best matches in its history but failed to make the World Cup simply because of a blown call.
There is a good chance the Irish would have lost in a penalty shoot-out, but at least the team, and not the ref, could have controlled its fate.
8: Maurice Edu's Goal Is Waved Off
After the first half in the match-up between the United States and Slovenia, it looked as if the United States was doomed. The team was down two goals to a country that is half the size of Connecticut.
There was no excuse for the team's poor performance in the first half but any true competitor is able to overcome adversity.
In the 48th minute of the match, Landon Donovan scored a goal, bringing the United States to only a one goal deficit. Thirty minutes later, Michael Bradley scored.
As the game was entering the 86th minute, it looked like the United States might have a chance to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in World Cup History. The team was attacking towards the goal when Maurice Edu headed the ball into the net.
At first, the United States fans were going ecstatic. All they would need is a tie against Algeria to advance out of the group round.
For some reason, Koman Coulibaly, a referee from Mali, blew his whistle and waved off the goal.
Coulibaly's name will forever live in infamy with United States Soccer fans.
Unlike most blown calls, no one knows why Coulibaly blew his whistle. At first people thought there might have been tripping or a foul but every replay shows this is not the case.
According to FIFA rules, a referee doesn't need to explain his call. When the American players asked for an explanation, Coulibaly simply walked away.
Anyone can make a blown call but referees need to be accountable for their mistakes.
7: Brett Hull's Skate In The Crease
It was Game Six of the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship. The Dallas Stars were winning the series three games to two against the Buffalo Sabres and the game was in its third overtime.
In the third overtime, Brett Hull tried to score a goal against Dominik Hasek and the Sabres. Hull's skate was over the crease and the goal should have been waved off.
The referee's did not see the skate in the crease and failed to make a call. As a result, the Dallas Stars won the 1999 Stanley Cup.
Bufallo fans were furious. How could an illegal shot lose them the Stanley Cup?
The NHL did change the "skate in the crease" rule in reaction to this play in the 2000 season.
6: Jeffery Maier Assists Jeter's Home-Run
Who would have ever imagined a 12 year old fan would decide the outcome of a playoff baseball game?
On October 9th 1996, the Baltimore Orioles were playing the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. The Yankees trailed the Orioles 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning when Derek Jeter stepped to the plate.
Jeter hit a long fly ball to deep center field. No one was sure if it would be a home run or an out at the warning track.
As the ball was approaching the fence, Jeffrey Maier, a twelve year old boy, deflected the ball into the stands.
After seeing the ball in the stands, the umpires called Jeter's shot a home run. The Yankees tied the game at four and were able to beat the Orioles in 11 innings, with a walk-off by Bernie Williams.
The Orioles protested the call, citing fan interference and appealed the game.
Their appeal did not work and the Yankees marched on to their 23rd World Series.
5: Diego Maradona's Handball
On June 11th 1986, Diego Maradona, one of the best soccer players in World Cup History, scored a goal that made him infamous throughout the entire world.
In the quarterfinals of the World Cup, Argentina was playing England. The score was 0-0 until the 52nd minute of action where Maradona scored a goal on a handball which was not called by the referees.
Later Maradona referred to this goal as "the Hand of God".
Four minutes later, Maradona scored a brilliant goal putting Argentina up 2-0. England battled back and scored a goal, making the final score 2-1.
Maradona has forever been known as a villian in England. If his "Hand of God" goal did not count, the game would have been tied going into overtime, giving England its chance at World Cup supremacy.
Argentina ended up winning the World Cup in 1986, defeating West Germany in the finals.
4: Denkinger Calls Orta Safe
In Game Six of the 1985 World Series, Umpire Don Denkinger called Jose Orta or the Kansas City Royals safe on an easy ground ball. It is easy to see from the picture that Orta was clearly out, but Denkinger thought otherwise.
This one call cost the St. Louis Cardinals the 1985 World Series. Kansas City rallied in that ninth inning to score two runs, giving them a 2-1 lead and won game seven.
This call is eerily similar to Jim Joyce's blown call yesterday. Check out the video below to see how similar they really are.
3: Armando Galarraga's Near Perfect Game
On June 2nd, Armando Galarraga was chasing history.
There was two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when Jason Donald stepped up to the plate. Donald hit an easy ground ball to Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera fielded the ball and threw it to first base.
The umpire at first base, Jim Joyce, called Donald safe.
Everyone in the ballpark, including Donald, were shocked. How can one misjudgment cost a pitcher a well-deserved perfect game?
2: Colorado's Fifth Down Against Missouri
In 1997, the Missouri Tigers were playing the Colorado Buffalo in a tight football game. The score was 31-27 Missouri but Colorado was driving down the field.
Colorado finally made it to the 2 yard line when the team was stopped by the Missouri defense. With three seconds on the clock, Colorado had no choice but to spike the ball. The spiked ball was really the fourth down of the drive and Missouri should have been crowned winner
But the referees saw it differently
The referees forgot to count the spiked ball in the four downs and awarded Colorado a fifth down. Every game, referees see spiked balls, so this is nothing out of the ordinary.
A simple count to five was messed up, costing Missouri a much deserved win.
1: Soviet's Get Extra Time In Olympic Hoops
In the 1972 Summer Olympics, the United States was playing the Soviet Union in the gold medal basketball game. The United States was winning 50-49 when the Soviet Union had the ball with three seconds left.
The Soviet Union tried to drive up court and call a time-out on the other side of the floor. There was supposedly one second on the clock, but the Russian official called for the play to be reset.
So the Russians were given a second chance
With three seconds, for the second time, the Russians threw the ball towards the basket but it was intercepted by an American player, thus ending the game.
Or so we thought...
The officials reset the play for the second consecutive time, giving the Soviet Union one final chance to prove its worth.
This time, the Soviets threw the ball to their big-man, who in turn scored, giving Russia a gold medal.
Many people think Cold War tensions played a large role in these calls. Watch the video below and see for yourself how badly these calls were blown.
Since they were blown not once, but twice, this play is the worst blown call in sports history
Here Are Some Honorable Mentions As Decided By Me And The Comments Below
George Brett's Pine Tar Incident
1986 NCAA Phantom Clock Michigan State vs. Kansas
Justin Henin's Hand-Up In The 2003 French Open
Chuck Knoblauch's Phantom Tag
Mike Renfro Ruled Out Of Bounds