The Perfect Game That Wasn’t

Armando Galarraga smiles after losing his perfect game with 2 outs in the 9th inning.

Obviously the talk for the last 24 hours has been about Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and his near perfect game.  By now you know that veteran umpire Jim Joyce blew the call at first base with two outs in the ninth inning of Detroit’s 3-0 victory.  As I watched it last night on someone’s phone,  I couldn’t help but feel sick to my stomach for Galarraga and Joyce.  I watched Jim Leyland come out and argue the call as any manager would have (and should have) done.  I watched first baseman Miguel Cabrera hang his head in disbelief and the rest of the Tigers beeline to Joyce after Galarraga completed the one-hit shutout.

Then a funny thing happened:  Everything that is right about the game of baseball shown through.

First, Armando Galarraga marched back to the mound and got Trevor Crowe to ground out to third.  If I was him it would have taken all the restraint I had not to scream at Joyce over the blown call.  In fact, I would have had a hard time not getting ejected.  Galarraga impressed me with his poise.

After the game, Joyce saw a replay of the call and immediately went to the Tigers clubhouse where he personally apologized to Galarraga.  It was a genuine, heartfelt apology.  Clearly he didn’t want to make the incorrect call, but he also didn’t have to own up to it and go talk to Galarraga.  He did, though, which was the right thing to do.

Then today, the Tigers presented Galarraga with a beautiful red Chevy Corvette in honor of his perfect game.  They also had him take the lineup card to homeplate for this afternoon’s game where Joyce was behind home plate.  A teary eyed Joyce accepted the card and patted Galarraga on the shoulder.  It was a touching moment for everyone involved.  Most Detroit fans refrained from booing Joyce when he was introduced (though some are apparently Red Wing fans and booed).

Also today, Commissioner Bud Selig said that he would not reverse the call and retro-actively award Galarraga the perfect game.  I have a hard time believing I just typed that, but after giving it some thought, I really believe that it was correct decision.  That’s a precedent that I’m sure Major League Baseball doesn’t want to touch at all and I can’t blame them.  If we retro actively award him with a perfect game who knows what else they’d retro actively start doing.  There is a human element to the game and it should stay that way.  Same way with other sports, right Ed Hochuli?

Anyway, when history looks back on this game they’ll remember Joyce’s terrible blown call…as they should.  But hopefully they’ll also remember how Armando Galarraga handled himself as well as Jim Joyce, who admitted his error and came out the next day to accept the line up card from the pitcher whose perfect night he ruined

Then he went back to work behind home plate like he’d done since 1987.

One Response

  1. This really was remarkable all the way around. I hope some other athletes learned from this. I also hope people everywhere stepped back and learned from this. We are imperfect people and the world does not revolve around ourselves.

    Good post.

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