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Should Bud Selig reverse the call and award Galarraga the perfect game?

Jun 2, 2010, 10:29 PM EDT

Selig 6.jpgThat’s the question a dozen people have asked me so far. People are tweeting about it. Even my wife — who knows nothing about any of this aside from the fact that I’m banging out copy about it at 10:00PM about — asked “why can’t they just fix the call?”  Let’s unpack:

Can Bud reverse the call?:  Sure, why not?  I’ve seen some people mention Bud Selig’s powers to act “in the best interests of baseball,” but I think that’s got it wrong.  Those powers — which are specified in Article II, Section 3of the league’s Constitution — tend to be reserved for discipline and control of teams and employees. Business matters among the franchises, really, not on-the-field activities.

On-the-field, the Commissioner of Baseball would appear to have plenary power. He can deem an All-Star Game a tie. He has total control to grant or deny protests. He can make up stuff on the fly, just like he did with replay on boundary calls.  Technically speaking, there is no reason why Bud Selig can’t overturn the call, void anything that happened after it and grant Galarraga his perfect game.

Should Bud Selig reverse the call?  This is a toughie — and I’ll accept argument to the contrary, but my gut instinct is to say no.

What is accomplished by doing such a thing?  Galarraga doesn’t get to go back onto the field and have his teammates mob him.  The 17,738 people in Comerica Park for the game don’t get to come back together and cheer.  No highlight, no collective memory and no euphoria would be gained.  All that would be changed is a notation in a record book.

And doing so risks an awful lot.  Why retroactively overturn this call and not others?  Bad calls happen all the time.  Should Bud Selig be in the business of changing the outcomes of games in which outs were called on trapped balls?  Should he demand that a game be started over from the top of the sixth inning when the umpires missed a balk?  It’s an overused phrase, but it’s overused for a reason: where do you draw the line?

The funny thing here is that by keeping the call as-is — however unfair it might be — we may just be able to prevent just such a can of worms from ever being opened.  Why? Because if this game stands as a travesty — if Armando Galarraga remains a martyr, as it were — action may finally be spurred to implement instant replay.  And if that happens the right calls will be made almost every time and Bud Selig will never have to concern himself with this kind of thing again.

Another overused, but still-apt phrase springs to mind: you can’t un-ring a bell.  What happened tonight happened. Baseball has to deal with it.  No act of God or Bud can and should erase it. All baseball can do from it is to learn and, hopefully, improve.

581 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. tjw - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    This kind of reminds me of a call during an A’s-Twins game last year. With two outs in the 9th inning of a one-run ball game, Michael Cuddyer was trying to score (I believe from 2nd on a wild pitch) and, according to all replays, he was safe. The umpire called him out, though, and the game was over. If Selig didn’t overturn that call–which definitively decided the outcome of a game–why would he overturn a call that, ultimately, had no impact on which team won the game?

  2. YorickvonFortinbras - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    Official scorer needs to change the official score of a base hit to an error on the pitcher on, say, a bobbled ball. That way Galaragga at least gets credit for a no hitter. He’ll remain the only guy to ever record 28 straight outs (really) in a game.

  3. twitter.com/@JoeRo23 - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:41 PM

    The fact that Galarraga can’t celebrate on the field after his PG is irrelevant. They can do a ceremony before another game and the fans will go nuts and it’ll be a HUGE story, anyway.
    The change to the record book means something. That kid gets to see his perfect game in the record book for the rest of his life. And, while he knows deep down inside that he really did it tonight, changing the record book allows him to really celebrate it and enjoy it the way he deserves to. Now, it’s a situation in which he’ll always know, no matter how good he feels about it, that he didn’t actually get the PG. Change the call, and he doesn’t have to deal with that in the same way.
    Bud Selig wouldn’t be in the business of changing the outcomes of games if he changed this call – the Tigers won the game.
    I’m not in favor of this happening in any other situation, but this is that one special, unique, once in a lifetime case, in my mind, in which I think MLB should change the call and give Galarraga his perfect game. There could not be fewer repercussions than in this situation – he’d change (fix is a better word) the outcome of a SINGLE at-bat, and nullify the following at-bat (taking an out away from the guy who was the eventual 27th out of the game, so he won’t mind).
    What happened tonight happened, and nobody will ever forget it… But we can leave it like that and let them never remember that a mistake cost a kid a perfect game, or we can change the outcome and let everyone remember that, in the end, the kid DID throw a perfect game, an ump made an unintentional mistake, and MLB did the right thing by both the pitcher and the ump by fixing the mistake so the game had its rightful outcome.

  4. B - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:46 PM

    No, you don’t award him the perfect game.
    Umpires are a part of the game. I don’t want instant replay. Baseball is about the men on the field, umpires included.
    To tjw: Who cares about one win for a meaningless game? There have only been 20 perfect games in history.
    – Life-long Tigers fan

  5. DANIEL FALEY - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    MLB can redeem itself with the league and fans by reversing the very last play of the game. if there was only one out, the situation would be totally different. Because it was the very last play, get it RIGHT!. Instant replay should also be allowed in these special situations. If the BLIND ump could not see 4ft infront of him, then fire him and get this 3RD PERFECT GAME of the year in the record books, as it SO rightly deserves!
    You have an out! (no pun intended)…….because no one would argue the fact that if the seeing impared ump called the right call, the 3rd perfect game of the season would be here B4 the 4th of JULY!
    GET it RIGHT MBL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. SOOTHA77 - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    give it to him!!!…………he earned it!..with all the bad publiscity baseball gets what a good thing to do. it wont alter the games endind or score ..GIVE IT TO HIM!!!…if it was middle of the game an might have changed the outcome Id prolly say diff..but this time its a no brainer..give the kid his due!

  7. Charles Gates - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    What happened tonight happened. Baseball has to deal with it. No act of God or Bud can and should erase it. All baseball can do from it is to learn and, hopefully, improve.
    I bet you used that logic regarding PEDs too!!! What a joke.

  8. YnkeesfanLen - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:50 PM

    Still steamed about this one, but you’re right. If this brings about change that will help our game I’m for it. Baseball cannot leave technology behind or the tradition will ultimately be meaningless. We have, after all, had night games on the north side of Chicago for 22 years now.

  9. Charles - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    I very rarely advocate the usage of replays in baseball,but I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to know when you’ve made a mistake of this magnitude that if you have the means too correct it you should. The Umpiring crew who allowed Joyce’s error to stand should all be fined! Jocye should be suspended for 30 days! This isn’t just an error you have to be totally blind not to make the correct call in this case. Message to Bud Selig do the right thing because to do nothing only compounds the error my made by your Umpiring crew.

  10. K. White - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    Three Words: Pine Tar Incident. Selig has the responsibility and the precedent to make this right.
    If anything, because this DOESN’T change the winner and loser of the game, it should make the reversal all the more palatable. It’s a rare occasion where there is no determined chain of events rendered moot by a reversal – this happened on the last play of the game. If the correct call is made, there is no possible alternate outcome beyond it, simply a closing of the book.
    I also agree that, if the call is upheld and the inevitable protest fails, then they have to rule it an error and at least give him a no-hitter. That’s in the hands of the official scorer, who would be quite remiss to not notice the opportunity for a small degree of salvation.

  11. Brian Young - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:53 PM

    Correcting a bad call preserves the integrity of baseball statistics, which is like a religion to many baseball fans. In this case with the outcome not in doubt but the observance of a hallowed achievement at stake makes this an easy call.
    Correct the mistake, Bud. Period.

  12. BStuart - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    If this game is meaningless & it doesn’t matter, then why keep any records at all? I mean for the sake of this argument it doesn’t matter anyway.
    To me it matters a lot! It’s about excellence and being rewarded for it.

  13. Kirk - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    It’s ALWAYS amazing to see anyone argue against doing the right thing. What’s the point of being the commissioner if he cannot correct errors. If not he’s useless and might as well be a sports reporter !

  14. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    So, all of you who would have Selig change this bad call: you want him to make the Cardinals the 1985 champions now too? Because they would have been if not for a bad call there.

  15. Sondo - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:00 PM

    This isn’t about changing rules and implementing instant replay permanently. It’s simply about ending the game when it ended. Do it Bud, in the name of fairness.

  16. Tim J - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:01 PM

    My sons and I were at the game…as much as I would like to have witnessed a perfecto, we feel like we did. I’m mounting the kid’s tickets on small plaques for them with text like “Galarraga’s 1-hit perfect game”…lol. I felt sick to my stomach after the call but after finding out that it was a blown call, I was angry. BUT I don’t think it should be reversed. It would be selfish of me to want that. What about all of the calls over time that may have robbed someone else of a piece of history? At least it was cool to be a part of it all.

  17. Craig - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:02 PM

    Craig, you’re missing the big picture. Of course something would be achieved from ruling his performance a perfect game. All of the baseball fans who are incensed by this travesty get to feel that justice was served. Can you not see the outcry? Can you not see that Tigers fans and non-Tigers fans alike are mortified by this?
    We watched a beautiful performance…an historic performance. We have been denied our rightful opportunity to be able to say we saw what we actually saw.
    In America we preach justice. We preach that the American way may not be perfect…but it’s the best thing going. Well with all due respect to football fans, baseball is our national passtime. Give us some justice…the American standard…and allow what we all
    saw be immortalized in the history of our great game.

  18. Sal - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:02 PM

    Since the ump admits he blew the call, can he go to the commissioner and ask for a reversal? And to those who say it’s a meaningless game or it doesn’t matter now since his teammates won’t get to mob him, he would still be one of 21 elite pitchers in baseball history. That would be worth all the trouble, especially since he did earn it.

  19. Daniel - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    This just another reason I’m sick of baseball. They can openly admit they are wrong, ROB someone of a huge record that has only happened 20 times in 100 years or so, and they can chalk it up as part of the game! It’s absolutely absurd!

  20. Tom Wylde - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    C’mon… forget all the semantics of the night, the game, who won, (Tigers won anyhow… debating the call can’t change the game), who lost, whether or not IR should be (finally) brought to professional baseball. Just man up and give Galarraga his perfect game in the record book. He deserves it! He shouldn’t be forced to suffer because an umpire can’t tell the difference between on the bag or near the bag. Since there’s no victims and Selig doesn’t have to change anything else, just give him the perfect game! He most likely isn’t going to throw that many of those in his career! Like I say, forget the debate over semantics and man up. He threw it, give it to him. Now.

  21. Spidur - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    I see where you’re coming from Craig, sort of…in that if this happened in the 6th, 7th, or even 8th inning, there would still be a “what if” scenario. Normally, a blown call changes the game plan of a pitcher who has to deal with so-and-so as opposed to such-and-such, and vice versa. But this was the very last out. There are no such questions asked. There was no such could-have-been. Galarraga deserves to be in the record books as one who pitched a perfect game. It is irrelevant that he and his teammates (and arguably the fans attending the game) were not able to celebrate on the field. He pitched a perfect game, end of story.

  22. TonyTiger - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:05 PM

    Well said Joe Ro. MLB needs to do the right thing. Right a HUGE wrong. No, this would not set a precedent for future bad calls. This change would not alter the winning team just merely strike the “last” batter from the record books.
    Ironically in my opinion the greatest benefactor would be Jim Joyce. As much as I feel hate for him, I also feel very much sorry for the feelings he must have. Judging from his comments he feels the sickest for what has happened tonight.

  23. MikeH - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:05 PM

    I remember Milt Wilcox, 4/16/83. A legit basehit broke up the perfect game after 26 outs. I was a kid in the back of a car hearing it on the radio.
    I say you over turn this. You can draw the line here, as Daniel said, if it happened with only one out, totally different. But if it’s a game ending play (either an out or a run scoring) and the game would be over at that point, it’s acceptable to nullify everything that follows.
    My emotional side (remember Milt Wilcox) says change the outcome.
    The pragmatic side says implement replay. Even the ump admited within a few minutes he missed the call! He would have reversed it himself aftering seeing the video on the spot.
    So my whole self says do both.

  24. Pete - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:06 PM

    I would normally agree except for the fact that this is the last call of the game. Nothing changes by reversing the call. There’s no way the game could have ended any differently. This is just for the record books, and the fans satisfaction. To not overturn the call is just dangerous towards Jim Joyce (a respected umpire who admitted his mistake and now can never live this down).
    As for celebration. Jim Joyce is umpiring the game tomorrow for the Tigers. Have Selig reverse the call tonight. Then Jim Joyce present Armando Galarraga with the ball he so richly deserves before the game. Thus giving the fans a chance to celebrate for Armando, and forgive Joyce.
    I wish Selig had an e-mail address I could spam for the next hour.

  25. Pete - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:08 PM

    I would normally agree except for the fact that this is the last call of the game. Nothing changes by reversing the call. There’s no way the game could have ended any differently. This is just for the record books, and the fans satisfaction. To not overturn the call is just dangerous towards Jim Joyce (a respected umpire who admitted his mistake and now can never live this down).
    As for celebration. Jim Joyce is umpiring the game tomorrow for the Tigers. Have Selig reverse the call tonight. Then Jim Joyce present Armando Galarraga with the ball he so richly deserves before the game. Thus giving the fans a chance to celebrate for Armando, and forgive Joyce.
    I wish Selig had an e-mail address I could spam for the next hour.

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