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

Jun 2, 2010, 10:29 PM EST

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. kimmer - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Have Selig override the ump’s decision and award Gallaraga the perfect game. Make Selig’s act of overriding the umpire’s decision a historic, precedent setting rule changer. Call it the Gallaraga rule. Or name it for something that sticks in the minds of fans when the rule is cited in the future. Word the justification for setting a precedent in such a way that it does not cause a landslide of requests for overturning past bad decisions. Take into account all the mitigating circumstances to justify the action (many good ones are mentioned in the above comments). This is the way legal precedents are set in America. This is “America’s game.” Selig is a lawyer, right? He should know how to do this B.S., and how to sell it to the public.

  2. arodoll - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    I agree YorickvonFortinbras. Normally I would say it was a base hit but the ball was bobbled and since they give scorer’s almost complete discretion, why not give Galarraga the edge? They change scoring after the game all the time. I thought Galarraga was exceedingly professional in his reaction to the entire incident. He didn’t fly off the handle or even argue with the ump. He even spoke graciously of the ump after the game, a total class act. I have nothing but respect for him and his accomplishment was not diminished by the bad call. Hopefully parents and coaches will use him as an example of sportsmanship.

  3. john pileggi - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Selig should stay out of this. I feel for the kid who lost his place in history, and I feel for the umpire, who is a pro and made a mistake. The ump has integrity, as the safe thing to do would have been “out”. Obviously, he believed that the correct call was “safe”. He was wrong. But, this is a human game and not one where the decisions are made by the Commissioner. Taken to an extreme, if that call had been one that determined a world series (like Deckinger), would he change the WS result? Baseball should review and debate extensively instant replay (I do not like it, but that is another matter) and make a decision going forward. But, to change the ruling on the field through a decree is wrong. Gallaraga is a great kid and the world knows what he did. Jim Jpyce is a good man of integrity and he made an honest mistake. Leave it at that.

  4. Jane - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    “Where do you draw the line?” shouldn’t even be a concern. If you ever have a situation identical to this (not likely), you should do it again. I see most of your readers seem to think the call should be changed and I agree.

  5. Utley's hair - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    First, kudos to Galarraga for an awesome performance. Also, he showed incredible grace and maturity in his reaction. Anybody could have—and probably WOULD have—gone ballistic and launched into a screaming fit that may have resulted in ejection and possibly fine, but he just calmly went back to work and made sure to get the next out.

    That said, this should stand. As numerous people have stated, the umpires are another human part of the game. Joyce has the misfortune of this happening at a time when umps have been taken to task repeatedly for taking games into their own hands and overstepping the line. A large part of the backlash is rooted in frustration with umpiring crews and their self-centered attitudes. He has since admitted his error and apologized to Galarraga. He will have to live with this split-second decision for the rest of his life, not just his career. He’s human. He made a mistake. He has acknowledged it.

    What if it wasn’t the 27th out? What if it was the first? Or the 14th? or the 10th? Where does it end? Mistakes are made all the time in everyday life. Mistakes are made in games all the time. Unfortunately, this happened on the final out of an otherwise perfect game.

    And Jim Joyce will have to live with it for the rest of his life.

  6. S. Campbell - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    As terrible an example of a bad call this was, and as catastrophic the resulting robbery of a Perfect game for Galarraga, you cannot just undo a bad call after a game. Doing this will just bring up the question, what is and what isnt significant enough to warrant this? What if a bad call cost a game 7 in a play-off series? No, we have all had to live with the bad results of bad calls, its part of the game of baseball. So unless we want to put full on play reviews on every questionable call ( which I for one don’t), I say it’s tragic but it stands.

  7. Alan Milnes - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Bud can change the official record if he wants but he can’t change the reality that it wasn’t a perfect game. The Umpire made the safe call and that’s that, no amount of admin can undo that simple fact.

  8. Fran the man - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    think in reverse. What if the runner was SAFE by a hair, and the ump called him out! Pitcher gets his perfect game on a “bad call” from review. Betcha nobody would dare take his perfect game away from him!

  9. Wayne - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    I think we’re all missing the more important aspect of what this all means: Before this year, 18 perfect games in well over 100 years. This year: Three!? All within a month of each other!!??? I guess we’ve answered the other question now finally: the MLB can truly say there are now officially no more steroids in Baseball. Seriously: the game has swung back to the pitcher now, just like it did during the hurling heydays of the 60s (Koufax, Drysdale, Gibson, McClain). Won’t be long before MLB changes rules in favor the hitter (even smaller strike zones, slight reconfiguration of the baseball, etc.). The next couple of years will be interesting.

  10. muldoon0 - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Actually, Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings for the Pirates, and lost the game in the 13th inning.

  11. Judd - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    because you can’t be sure that the outcome would have changed even if cuddy had scored. They would have been tied and proceeded. Maybe they would have lost.
    Here, it was the last out. Nothing is unknown. It should be changed retroactively when there is nothing after it.

  12. BIGBRUCE11047 - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    If the umpire apologized to the pitcher for missing the call, why couldn’t he have reversed the call on the field? I think the Commissioner Bud Selig should reverse the call and give Galarraga his “perfecto.” When the play ended, you could see the look on Armando Galarraga’s face when he thought he had pitched a perfect game and then to find out that the umpire blew the call. He has the authority to change the call and that should be the humanitary thing to do.

  13. dan the sporstman - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    How can the only man (Selig), with the power to correct this obvious and admitted error, fail to intercede in an area so representative of the best of this great game, and correct this mistake and then continue to call himself the custodian of the integrity of this sport ?

  14. Matt - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    I don’t think so. The game has inherent imperfection of judgement calls. Going down the road of instant replay would make the games way too long. It stinks when it happens though. I remember sitting in the 2nd row of seats in Center field at Coors and a “homerun” hit by the Rockies clearly made it over the fence by 15 feet, but was hit so hard richochet back and the Ump said it hit the top of the fence. I couldn’t believe it. After this I started thinking about all the “records” that have been affected by judgement and felt it washed out over time.
    That being said, I think Joyce and some of these Umps are prima donnas and take themselves way too seriously and cause more harm to the reputation of Umpires than are necessary.

  15. theo - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    This article is garbage. “All baseball can do is learn from this…”
    What is there to learn, that baseball’s system of officiating is flawed? We know that already. You can only show that you’ve learned if you’ve changed your behavior.
    The NBA, the NFL and the NHL have designed replay around the needs of the sport, and it CAN be done in baseball if MLB had any people with the will to do it. Lines CAN be drawn so that a replay system makes sense. Heck, the slowest sport in the world, the PGA tour at 5 hours per round uses replay to make sure the right call is made on penalties. The fact is, you can’t rely on humans to make the right call all the time.
    The RIGHT CALL matters, and it’s about time baseball purists got out of the way on this.
    I don’t give a hoot if Bud gives him something, just don’t let the MLB umps @)(#$*)#@(* another game.

  16. Dont Change the Call - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Its MLB you cant even type and are advocating for a call reversal way to go.

  17. Ed K - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Bud Selig reversing the call and awarding Armando Galarraga a perfect game would create an unacceptable precedent to the integrity of the game for the following reasons: 1) Baseball has evolved to exactly where it is today because we have collectively accepted and agreed that the on-field decisions made by the umpires are final. 2) We do this with the full knowledge that not all calls will be correct. 3) With the one exception of determining home runs, we have intentionally withheld the use of instant replay for ALL other calls. We accept all of this regardless of the magnitude of any single at bat or play. Judgements on calls and umpire strike zone’s are just as much a component of the game as player stats and team wins. Baseball has always moved slowly (sometimes painfully) toward change. But is has done so at its own pace because we accept and take comfort that this game has been played and officiated basically the same generation after generation. No other professional team sport can make that statement as impactfully as baseball can. This is the integrity of baseball. And this is why baseball has remained such a unique and revered American sport. Moving to full usage of instant reply would remove the tradition of human involvement as old as the game itself. As much as I admire Armando Galarraga’s performance last night, you simply cannot start picking and choosing which plays to undo because “this” out was deemed too important to be decided by an umpire.

  18. sublbc - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Your argument about the human element is meaningless in this case. All of the pro sports that we love so much such as: Basketball, Hockey and Football involve this, “human” element when it come to officiating. However, baseball continues to be the only one not to evolve and show that it can change for the better. Obviously there are reasonable ways to use replay without interfering with the human element. For example, replay cannot be used for personal fouls in basketball or football. Obviously IR will not be used for calling balls and strikes (even though it probably should). Baseball can use it for just about anything else though and should since it would finally correct bad calls and stop all of this controversy.
    I feel that a lot of us are really getting sick of baseball’s imperfection and incidents like this are really making it hard for any fans to really take this sport seriously.
    I don’t see IR ruining the NFL or NBA that is for damned sure!

  19. Emcd - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    If official scorers correct the record for mere hit vs. error issues, what in the world is wrong with correcting this ONE wrong call.
    Asterisk the post-game ruling in the record books if you want, but the guy pitched a perfect game! Put it in the books!

  20. Crazy Canuck - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    OVER RULE…….since asterisks are part of baseball since at least Roger Maris’ home run campaign of 1961, I see no reason why this can’t be put in the record books….it only underlines the need for instant replay for umps and maybe this is the incident to get that…..not giving him that record but changing the replay rule to include very important plays would be a travesty…..most importantly, is how this young man conducted himself after the call……….he is what is right about MLB and Selig is all about what is wrong

  21. sublbc - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    Your argument about the human element is meaningless in this case. All of the pro sports that we love so much such as: Basketball, Hockey and Football involve this, “human” element when it come to officiating. However, baseball continues to be the only one not to evolve and show that it can change for the better. Obviously there are reasonable ways to use replay without interfering with the human element. For example, replay cannot be used for personal fouls in basketball or football. Obviously IR will not be used for calling balls and strikes (even though it probably should). Baseball can use it for just about anything else though and should since it would finally correct bad calls and stop all of this controversy.
    I feel that a lot of us are really getting sick of baseball’s imperfection and incidents like this are really making it hard for any fans to really take this sport seriously.
    I don’t see IR ruining the NFL or NBA that is for damned sure!

  22. Cubs Fan - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Let’s face it, the ump missed a perfect game. The pitchedr now holds the record of 28 consecutive outs in a nine inning game.

  23. Matt - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    That’s wrong, you should google Harvey Haddix. He retired 36 straight batters.

  24. Jargon - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    It’s the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs in a perfect game, the count is 3-2 on the last batter up.
    The Pitch, called ball four, but the tracer (with a 1″ margin of error) shows it was clearly a strike.
    Oh the hummanity! Give the Pitcher the game. Clearly the ump was wrong. How do we live with this travesty of poor judgement. We have the technology, it clearly shows the mistake. Please commissioner, do the right thing!
    Sorry folks, pitcher was robbed, that’s baseball. Game over.

  25. d - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    I say don’t overturn it- but recognize it as a 28 out perfect game – the first one! :)

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