Twenty-Five days ago, we all woke up in a world where only 18 perfect games had been thrown. Since 1876, there have been about 390,000 baseball games played. This is a rate of one perfect game every 4.5 seasons.
We almost just had three in a little over three weeks. By now, the whole world, Jim Joyce included, knows that umpire Jim Joyce blew Armando Galarraga’s perfect game with a missed call at first base. Jason Donald was out by at least a step, and then what should have been an epic celebration of perfection turned into a controversy over instant replay.
Instant replay, it’s on the way. I thought after the game that instant replay would have instantly fixed the problem. Jerry Crasnick had a very good point which made me rethink my argument.
“Inevitably, the game’s sad ending is going to elicit an outcry for expanded use of instant replay. It’s a worthwhile debate, but consider this for a second: How gratifying would it have felt if Joyce’s botched call was followed by a trip to the replay booth, a five-minute conference, the umpiring crew emerging from the tunnel and Joyce throwing up his right arm with an “out” sign.
Yes, Galarraga would have had his perfect game, on paper, but that single transcendent moment of celebration is something that can never be retrieved. In baseball or any other sport, winners don’t get mulligans on euphoria.” – Crasnick
He is completely right. How can you have a celebration on the field when the moment has passed? I for one have always been a big fan of the 5th umpire idea; someone in the booth to adjust calls that really need to be adjusted. Even in that scenario, the delay in the call would have taken the steam out of the celebration. If the 5th umpire was field level watching screens in the end of a dugout, it is possible that within 5-10 seconds after the safe call, he could have been on the field giving an out sign. There are obviously all sorts of issues with having these elements of replay, and the arguments for their applications are never ending.
So how does one fix this? Bud Selig could certainly make an executive decision, reverse the call and give Galarraga his perfecto. This has a whole new can of worms associated with it. Obviously, in this instance, nobody would argue. Justice would be served, but what happens when next week, the same scenario unfolds. Perfect game, 2 out, 9th inning in a 1-0 game, and a call is missed. The next batter hits a two run HR. Selig will almost be forced to take the win away from the opposing team if he wants to credit the new pitcher with a perfect game. What if the botched call happened 1 out earlier, can Selig still override? What if it was in the eighth, or the third? By righting the wrong after the fact, Selig sets a dangerous precedent which I do not think he can, or will do.
It winds up being a lose-lose situation. Selig’s hands are tied, and instant replay would only have helped in making the perfect game official, not in determining the game’s outcome.
In my opinion, Armando Galarraga’s name belongs on the list of perfect games. Don’t change the box score, the hit or anything, just put his name on the list. Put an asterisk if you have to; make him 20b or 21a if you want. His performance was noteworthy and belongs on the list some way or another.
Galarraga is taking the right approach to this. “I got a perfect game,” Galarraga said. “Maybe it’s not in the book, but I’m going to show my son the CD.” And you know what, Galarraga actually did something that nobody else has ever done; he basically threw a perfect game of 28 outs! He will always know he got a perfect game, I will always know he got a perfect game, and history will always know. Its just another great baseball storyline that we will tell our grand children one day.