Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Perfect Game That Wasn’t

June 3rd, 2010 | 1 comment »

You’ve certainly heard by now that Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from being only the twenty-first man in MLB history to throw a perfect game.  A blown call by umpire, Jim Joyce, on what would have been the twenty-seventh out of the game kept Galarraga from obtaining the perfect game, but no doubt made him a part of baseball history.

The call heard ’round the world has been replayed countless times in the past fifteen hours or so, and there is no doubt that Joyce made the wrong call.  I won’t belabor the point here, but Joyce admitted he was wrong and asked to see Galarraga after the game to personally apologize.

So now the question is what, if anything, should be done to right this wrong.  Some are pointing to this as an example of why MLB should have expanded instant replay.  Others are demanding that MLB reverse the call and give Galarraga the perfect game. 

I absolutely do not support MLB overturning Joyce’s call and awarding the perfect game to Galarraga.  Don’t get me wrong, I was outraged at first.  Then I quickly moved on to feeling sad, for both Galarraga and Joyce.  It wasn’t until I saw a comment made by someone I follow on Twitter (@BrianBernardoni) that I came to terms with how I feel about the situation.  Here’s what it said: “A#perfectgame is perfection for all involved. Perfect failure by the losing team, perfect play by the winners and perfect calls by the umps.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Brian is absolutely right.  It’s because of this that I don’t support MLB stepping in to award Galarraga the perfect game.  I’ve read and heard enough about his thoughts on the matter last night and this morning to believe that Galarraga himself wouldn’t want that.  It will never be a perfect game.

I’m also not sure how I feel about expanded instant replay (right now only homerun calls can be reviewed).  I shudder at the thought of computers eventually replacing umpires when it comes to calling balls and strikes.  More immediately, I worry that instant replay will be overused and slow down a game that already catches a lot of grief over its length.

All that being said, I think baseball lags behind the other three major sports in terms of not using instant replay more extensively.  Even tennis uses technology to judge line calls these days.  So, I think what I can live with is a system similar to the NHL.  You could allow the umpires on the field to initiate instant replay, and have a war room at the league office that could initiate review as is done in the NHL.  However, I think allowing teams to call for review is potentially dangerous in terms of slowing down the game.  I trust the umpires and the officials in the league office to do so only in situations that genuinely require the extra review, such as last night’s incident.

Only time will tell if last night’s heartbreaking ending to an almost perfect game will be the catalyst for more instant replay in MLB.  If done correctly and carefully, it could be beneficial for both players and umpires.  Unfortunately, nothing can be done for Galarraga and Joyce, who I’m sure both lost sleep over last night’s events.  I’m just glad to see the Tigers, Galarraga and Joyce handling the situation with such a high level of class (see here).

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One Response to “The Perfect Game That Wasn’t”

  1. Kristi is AWESOME

    You bring up some good points here. I am glad you were able to have your mind changed on the instant replay issue. Instant replay doesn’t really fit into baseball like it might other sports like football or tennis, where there are definite lines are the complete essence of the game. Growing up playing baseball my whole life I, and I’m sure Galarraga, were taught that good or bad call, the umpire is always right, and that is a part of the game. Baseball is by nature, a game of opinion and vantage points that could never be or shouldn’t be turned over to a computer or instant replay. Take the strike zone for instance. While there is a standard, no two umpires have the same exact one. Even further, a good pitcher can use his skill to “stretch” the strike zone. So by using a computer or instant replay, you would be taking away the art and skill of the game. Let’s take the “bad call” into account. If there were instant replay, maybe it would have shown that the ball was inside the glove before he had actually touched the bag. But the question still thereon lies, had it actually touched the glove and been secured? Umpires use other senses besides sight to determine plays. Sound for example that a slow motion camera gets rid of is used to determine if the ball has in fact reached the glove. The point I am getting at in all this rambling is that umpires are an important part of the tradition and sport of the game and shouldn’t have their important roll phased out.

    I would though, favor integrating other things from other games into baseball. For instance “shot clocks” for the pitcher and batter to minimize time daddling about to simply to throw off a rhythm.


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