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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. Thomas Bird - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Baseball reversed a call when George Brett was called out on the “Pine Tar” bat incident years ago.
    This would have been the last play of the game so there would have been no further action to change the outcome. It was a historic event changed by a missed call. Everyone agees it should be changed.

  2. catnut - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Bud Selig needs to get out of the Stone Age & institute instant replay!!
    All of the other major sports has it, why not baseball?
    Last nights NHL game is a perfect example of how well instant repaly can work.

  3. andrewb - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    It will happen right after the first time it’s allowed. The decisions of the umpires on the field are supposed to be final, not subject to behind the back reversals by the Commissioner. Allowing a reversal to happen one time, regardless of outcome of the game, will open the doors to more of this. Baseball, like any other sport, has rules that the teams all abide by, and the umpires are to make sure those rules are enforced, without question. Stuff like this will water down the effectiveness of umpires being able to police the game properly, knowing that if they make a call they think is correct, outcry from fans will get the decision reversed. All four major sports have referees, umpires, or officials that need to be able to supervise and make calls on the field of play without having to look behind their backs.

  4. Scott G. - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    I have been a huge baseball fan since I was 4….that is 44 years ago, and in all that time, I have never seen umps making soooooooo
    many mistakes, whether it is the calling of balls and strikes/calls on the bases/foul line calls, etc….and this year they seem to want to be the center of attention…..Wednesday, the loss of the perfect game was the worst call I can remember, follow that with the final play in the Minnesota/Seattle game when the runner was also obviously out and it ended the game. Umps seem to be instigating agruments more, pushing agruments to the brink, and throwing people out of games. I really believe umps need an accountability factor put in to their job description. Maybe a fine for every blown call….or how about this—points awarded for every good call (including balls and strikes which baseball is now able to track) and points taken away for blown calls—the 7 highest rated umps get to ump the world series game and recieve a large bonus for their excellence????? what do you think???

  5. Ed Hardy - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Bud Selig is one of the most ineffectual people on the planet. I vote we impeach Bud, and let him go back to selling used cars.

  6. jake terp - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    my parents say play fair or dont play at all….. give it to the guy im from michigan and galarraga was a fifth starter last yr and b4 and if it changed he would be up there with the greatest players ever, koufax,halladay etc.

  7. Jackrabbit - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    As much as I want him to be credited with a perfect game, I come down on the side of those who say you can’t change it after it’s done. To his everlasting credit, other than his “WTF, you’ve got to be kidding me” ironic smile at the umpire, Galarraga went back to the mound to continue and finish the game. You can’t undo what’s done. It seems simple because the next batter did in fact ground out to end the game. What if, instead, he had hit a home run because Galarraga was so unnerved by the obvious bad call, and then Cleveland rallied to win the game? Yes, it’s a shame he was robbed of an extremely rare achievement, and the situation seems to argue in favor of it, but I reluctantly have to vote no on reversing the call. You can’t change the rules after the fact. Hopefully this speeds the implementation of instant replay in at least limited circumstances

  8. David M. - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Bud has never showed an iota of leadership skills. Why should he start now?

  9. S G - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    You’re overreacting here. This isn’t about balls and strikes being reviewed. Even I believe that’s going too far. This is about whether the man was safe or out on the base. Clearly, the replay showed he was out, and the ump got it wrong, costing the man a perfect game.

  10. Siestaguy - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    I would hate to see a lot of time used on reviewing the calls of a long enough game as it is. How about giving each team the “football” red flag and have one challenge per game? And, still no challenge on balls and strikes.

  11. G. Rogers Eastman - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    Did the umpire admit he made a bad call at the plate in the instance you refer to ? I believe Selig should reverse the call as the umpire said he blew it.

  12. Tazzman - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: As much as it stinks, there is no way on Gods green earth that this will be overturned. Why? Because the Umpire called it that way! He might have been out yesterday, he might have been out tomorrow, but he was safe on that play “BECAUSE THE UMPIRE CALLED IT THAT WAY”! It’s easy to be critical on SLOW MOTION REPLY, but the man had to make a call in real time. But if we’re going to demand the call be overturned, lets go back the young man who reached over the wall during a Yankee’s game that was called a home run instead of fan interferance and get that entire game overturned.

  13. Donald - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    He will go down as one of 10 other guys who had a perfect game ruined by the last batter. He is not the first to be this close.

  14. 55 year Baseball Fan - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    Simple one word: Purist!
    I can’t stand you guys. You are the reason why baseball is going down in ratings. If the umpire still felt he made the right call fine but when an umpire admits a mistake then it should be his call to petition the commisioner to correct the problem. Also this is a very unique situation 21st in history and the call doesn’t change the outcome of the game. Seems simple and logical. And all the paranoid people that think it will change how the game is played it won’t because what are the chance this exact situation will ever happen again.
    Heck the game is pretty much a slow game compared to football, hockey, soccer, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, etc, etc. so I don’t want to hear about instant replay slowing down the game.
    The fact is that instant reply will make fans, players, managers and pretty much everybody happy because the call will be right except for one group who want to drag us all into their miserable, backwards world…..The purist!

  15. 55 year Baseball Fan - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    No suspension for the umpire he blew the call! It should be reversed. now if he was so arrogant after the game to say he was right then sit him down but to make an error and admit it shows a lot of class and professionalism. He should be commended. it is too bad he can’t just reverse his call instead we have to count on smoking”BUD” Selig to get it right.
    Look we all make mistakes. Can you imagine everytime anyone of us makes an error at our job we get fined or a suspension it would be ridiculus. Now if we continue to make significant errors than action needs to be taken. Look Leland and many people who work with this Umpire think he is great so take it for what it is worth. He blew the call and owned up to it and appears to be very sincere and remorseful about it. I wish other umpires could learn from this guy and overturn their own calls when it is clear they made a mistake.

  16. Awboater - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    You have to understand the significance of the bad call.
    This wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill bad call. For the most part, I would not want to see a call overturned, even if it changed the outcome outcome of the game, and even if it decided a World Series champion. In comparison to a perfect game, those are common events.
    But the bad call decided the outcome of arguably one of the most rarest of events in baseball. In that regard, the blown call – especially one that is admitted by the umpire – becomes an egregious mistake that is worthy of being corrected by Selig.
    Due to the significance of this event, this should not set a precedent for overturning every little blown call. I mean there are blown calls, and there are career altering blown calls.
    It wiped out a PERFECT game for heaven’s sake. For the good of baseball, the call should be overturned.

  17. Dave - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Wow charles that is absolutely absurd. You dont suspend someone because they made a bad call. Read the rules before you make such accusations. First off and foremost he made a mistake and he admitted it. Unfortunately, he made the call and by the rule book whatever he calls stands for the type of play being addressed. How about you go try umpiring for 22 years and see how easy it is to make calls. It takes a true man to make the calls fairly and even a bigger one to admit he made a mistake. Grow up people!!!

  18. Semperfi-bravo - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    Bud Selig is still the gutless, no balls punk he has always been! He is conducting a personal vedetta against Pete Rose in memory of his friend Bart Giamotti. REVERSE IT!

  19. upset - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    When you have the power to do what is right, you do it….no excuses, overturn the call.

  20. scott w - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    A note: Galaragga not “only pitcher to record 28 outs in a row”. Of course, in “the greatest game ever pitched’, Harvey Haddix took his PG into the 13th inning against the Milwaukee Braves before he lost it.
    Milwaukee won 1-0 on a 3-run HR by Joe Adcock. (Aaron was called out for running directly from 2nd to the dugout. Mantilla, I believe, was called out for “passing the runner”.)
    Galarraga’s game will likely join Haddix’s and Don Larsen’s WS PG as the “perfect games’ of lore.

  21. Doc - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Selig could change the ruling, no balls to do it!

  22. 55 year Baseball Fan - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Did you hear about the reversal from David Stern the Basketball Commissioner? Made the right call in my mind and I’m not a Celtics Fan. Fact is a player got a second technical which may have cost Boston that game when he was ejected. However the 2nd technical also cost that player to sit out the next game. The Referee was out of line and gave a 2nd technical on emotion. he admittley said later in a press conference that he thought by giving the player a technical it would have only been his first. he didn’t realize it was his second. Anyway he said had he realized it was going to be the players second he probably wouldn’t have given it to him.
    Anyway with this information David Stern, et al overturned the second technical which then allowed the player to play the next game. That decision may have impacted the series but in my opionion it was the right thing to do since the official actually felt it was a mistake on his behalf.
    I don’t profess to know all the Major league rules inside and out. howver, if there is any way for the Commisioner to overturn a decesion by an umpire this is it. 1) Umpire states “I made a mistake”, 2) Video shows he made a bad call 3) it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game. Personally if the Commissioner does overturn it it will look good for him, it will look good for baseball, it credits the pitcher, it will help the Tigers (1st Perfect game in Team history) and the main thing it doesn’t hurt anybody not even the Indians they lost. more positive will come out of this decision then to do nothing. I love this game but so many people I know are turned off by all the wrong going on in baseball and the failure to progress with the time. Speed up pitches, instant replay, etc. This is a great opprotunity to show that baseball can get it right.

  23. Joe - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    Uh… because this was a perfect game for the record books. Your one game, was just that, one game with no historical signicance. The two do not compare…

  24. Kenny - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    The rules of baseball don’t allow for such a move. The official scorekeeper can change only certain items (hit vs error) and this clearly wasn’t an error – except for umpire judgment. I suspect many of the folks complaining about the umpire haven’t tried it themselves in any sport. Errors in judgment happen and this is an unfortunate case.
    In hindsight – the best that could have been done (besides getting the call right) was if the umpire (Joyce) thought he missed something (a foot on the bag – for instance) and asked for help on that particular point on appeal – but that obviously wasn’t an option. Umpires are trained to view a play and anticipate it’s result – leading to the most effective way of processing the information at hand for the correct call – but it’s not always perfect. Only a second view (review) of the play allowed him to determine his call was incorrect.
    There have been a few perfect games/no-hitters where and error or even a walk made the difference between history and just another solid outing. Are we to review every pitch of a game which isn’t swung at (or even those with check swings) to see if the pitch that for Roger Clemens is a strike but for Jose Lima (R.I.P) is a ball and make changes to their records to allow for this?
    Simply put – if it can’t be protested there shouldn’t be anything else that can be done – other than good healthy debate for the rest of the year.

  25. Mike - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    The reason why you do overturn the call is to start a NEW tradition. One where you use basic replay on not only homers, but on historic or calls where runs are concerned (play at the plate).
    A scorekeeper gets 24 hours to reverse a call they make, from hit to error, why can’t an umpire in a booth get 2 minutes (and only 2 minutes) to review a critical play? It could be just like appealing a check-swing. If the home plate umpire or umpire making the call agrees to review, then the review happens. If they don’t agree, then it’s over, in the books.
    That puts the job of calling for a reversal square where it belongs, on the crew on the field, not Bud the Useless’ desk a day or week later.

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