Imperfect Perfection: Issues Surrounding Perfect Game Blown Call
On June 2, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed.
Not robbed of a home run, but of a perfect game.
Galarraga retired 26 straight hitters, placing him one out away from a perfect game.
Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians stepped to the plate, the last chance to end perfection.
Donald slapped a ground ball between Miguel Cabrera at first and Carlos Guillen at second. Cabrera ran over to field the ball, backhanded it, and threw it to Galarraga at the bag. The throw beat the runner by half a step. A perfect game! Right?
Umpire Jim Joyce ruled Donald safe at first, causing Galarraga to lose a perfect game. Everyone in the stadium, even Indians fans and players, knew that the Tigers' hurler had achieved perfection.
Afterwards, Joyce admitted to his mistake.
"I just cost that kid a perfect game," he said. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."
Despite the umpire's blown call, Galarraga remained calm on and off the field. The two would meet and embrace. Joyce apologized to Armando for his mistake.
The following day, Joyce was behind the plate to umpire the Detroit game. In a class act, Galarraga delivered the lineup card before the game, instead of manager Jim Leyland. Both men displayed a great deal of class throughout an incident that could have been much uglier.
Now, there are discussions taking place to see whether or not the call should be overturned. So far, it appears that commissioner Bud Selig will not change Joyce's call.
Although some may disagree, I believe that would be the right decision.
I would love to be able to give Galarraga his perfect game. After all, he earned it.
However, if the call is reversed, what will it do to the game of baseball?
Human judgment and error has always been a staple of America's pastime. Some say to change the call just this time. Unfortunately, that is not an option. If this call is overturned, then there will be argument over future calls that impact games.
A batter called out on strikes to end a game with runners on base could be reviewed. It directly impacts the outcome of the contest. Overturning Joyce's call would be beneficial in the short term, but controversial in the long term.
Umpires will make mistakes. We all do. It is a part of being human.
In fact, there may have been other mistakes in the game that were in Galarraga's favor. Obviously, they were not magnified like the final call.
But, simple missed ball and strike calls can affect the mindset of pitchers and hitters.
The bottom line is that umpires make mistakes. It has always been a part of baseball. If Joyce's call is overturned, it will change the game of baseball forever. We shouldn't change the game over just one incident.
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