The Perfect Game That Wasn’t
By Daniel Rifkin
If you haven’t heard yet, Armando Galarraga was about to go down in history as the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game -- until umpire Jim Joyce blew a relatively easy call, calling Indians Jason Donald safe on a play at first.
For better or worse, this is bound to go down as one of the most memorable moments of the season, and perhaps in recent baseball history given the possible ramifications. The event has already added a huge amount of fuel to the fire for proponents of instant replay in baseball.
For what it’s worth, Joyce’s call did not cost Galarraga his place in history. Everybody knows Galarraga pitched a perfect game, even Joyce admitted it after. The call may have robbed him a place in the record books, but I don’t see why even that has to be the case. I see no reason why commissioner Bud Selig can’t overrule Joyce’s call and retroactively award Galarraga the perfect game he deserves.
For all the supposed sanctity of baseball’s record books, things like this have been done before. Roger Maris’ record 61st home run was marked with an asterisk. In other sports, wins and even championships have been retroactively vacated after it was revealed they’d been cheating.
That said, I also don’t think it’s necessary for Selig to change it. In the eyes of the world, the Tigers pitcher pitched a perfect game. And it will be remembered whether it goes in the record book or not. If anything, it will be remembered more so than any of the other “real” perfect games.
Questionable calls and unexpected quirks have made for some of the most memorable moments in sports. I wouldn’t be surprised if “The Perfect Game That Wasn’t” (Or whatever it gets called) went down in history with events like the “Immaculate Reception,” and the “Music City Miracle.”
I think instant replay should be instituted in baseball, but only in the playoffs. When bad umpiring affects the outcome of the playoffs or World Series -- as any Oriole fan circa 1996 would remember -- the results can be cruel and unacceptable. But, let’s be frank, baseball is a slow enough game as it is. The chance any single umpiring call in a 162-game season could have an effect on the playoffs is pretty slim. So that only leaves personal bids at records and history as an argument for instant replay in the regular season. And since the call made against Galarraga does not necessarily deny him either of those, I see no reason to slow down every regular season game with instant replay.
Posted June 4, 2010