With his spineless decision today not to right an obvious wrong, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig again showed his detractors why they are right about what a weak leader he is.
Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga had a perfect game going with two outs in the 9th inning when first base umpire Jim Joyce blew a call on a play at first involving Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians.
An obviously upset Joyce admitted after the game that he blew the call.
"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce said. "I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the replay."
You have to say Joyce was a stand-up guy for admitting his mistake, but it didn't have to be this way.
Selig wasn't the only one wrong here. Joyce was wrong for more than just his call at first base. He was wrong for not taking in the situation, and understanding how hard it is to throw a perfect game when he made his call.
As Pete Rose related on the "Waddle and Silvy" show on ESPN radio in Chicago: "I'm going to give the pitcher the benefit of the doubt on a bang-bang play at first. The umpire knew that is was a perfect game."
Normally when you see a great play by an infielder in a baseball game and the throw and the player get to the bag at the same time, the call almost always goes to the fielding team, perhaps in recognition of that great effort.
Here you have a situation where a pitcher is about to throw only the twenty-first perfect game in the history of baseball. You would think the umpire would be a little more cognizant of that and make the right call.
You can disagree with me for saying if it was a tie, still call the guy out because there were two outs in the 9th inning of a perfect game, but sometimes you have to cut the guy some slack.
But in this case, Donald was easily out at first. Nobody questioned the call, and you have to question that if Joyce needed to see the replay and that he was really sure the guy was safe, maybe he should get some glasses or contacts, or maybe he shouldn't be umpiring anymore.
Unfortunately the umpires didn't huddle together and make the right decision.
Former Chicago Cub pitcher Milt Pappas still holds a grudge against former umpire Bruce Froemming for denying him a perfect game with two outs in the 9th inning in 1972 when he called a couple of borderline pitches balls to give pinch hitter Larry Stahl a walk. Pappas was livid, but he still ended up with a no-hitter.
It's unbelievable how calm Galarraga was after the obvious blown call. Not only did he lose the perfect game, but that call also cost him the no-hitter.
For a journeyman pitcher who is unlikely to ever taste immortality again, his behavior was amazing.
But what was also amazing was Bud Selig's decision not to act in the best interest of the game like he has the power to do and ignore the obvious mistake.
St. Louis Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa gave his two cents about the incident.
"I was thinking if the umpire says he made a mistake on replay, I'd call it a perfect game. If I was Bud Selig, in the best interest of the game, I'd give him his perfect game."
Unfortunately Tony LaRussa is not Bud Selig.
There are people who would say that if you change this play, you would have to go back and view other games and see if there were mistakes made in them. Or that in the future, every time an umpire makes a mistake that the commissioner has to step in and change it.
That's not the case, and this is a special incident.
This play was the last play of the game if the correct call was made. Changing it changes nothing other than doing the right thing. You don't have to go back and start over from the point of the infraction.
The game was over.
Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game.
He already lost the thrill of the moment and the celebration that would have taken place after his outstanding performance.
Is it right to steal history from him, and his place in the Hall of Fame after pitching such a gem and handling it afterwards like such a gentleman?
No, it's not!
But we've got a commissioner who decided that an exhibition game should determine who has home field advantage in the World Series, so the bigger surprise here would have been if he did do the right thing.
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