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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. Tammy Alamgir - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    ur crazy too. all u have to do is look at the replay and its as plain as the nose on your face the guy was out. I seen it myself many times.

  2. Fran the man - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    the runner was safe. Pitcher was juggling a snow cone while the runner hit the bag. Ump made the call.
    The umpire is the one with no balls by being so apologetic. Routine call, bang bang tie goes to the runner. Sorry. Nobody woulda said anything if it was in the 4th inning. Let me see anyone make that call

  3. Ross Young - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    Yes it should be overturned, they do it in hockey why not baseball.

  4. Chambo - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    I will not purchase another major league baseball ticket until that call is reversed. Refusing to right a wrong because of a fear of opening pandora’s box….c’mon Bud, your business is in a decline because you think a “misplaced adherence to a flawed process” carries more weight than “doing the right thing” This is the end of baseball in America.

  5. LARRY - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    SELIG GROW A PAIR AND DO THE RIGHT THING. CHANGING THE CALL WILL NOT HARM ANY PERSON OR TEAM. THE OUTCOME WILL BE THAT A DESERVING YOUNG PITCHER WILL GET HIS RECOGNITION. NO ONE GETS HURT !!!
    SHOW SOME CLASS FOR A CHANGE.
    THIS IS FOR THE GOOD OF BASEBALL!!!

  6. anonymous - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    SELIG=NO BALLS..AND OUT!

  7. jammer - Jun 3, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Selig is a terrible human.

  8. Sara K - Jun 3, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    I agree absolutely. The assumption that this one decision requires a rule change or sets some kind of broad precedent is flawed. We aren’t talking about all bad calls, we aren’t talking about hypothetical scenarios, we’re talking about this call in this situation in this game. It’s unique.

  9. Mark C - Jun 3, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Bud Selig has never been a leader and he has never had baseball’s best interest at heart. Remember the Steroid Era was on Bud Selig’s watch and he never did anyting about it until Congress forced him to address the issue. He is just a lackey for the major league owners and has never been qualified to hold the position of commissioner.

  10. Will - Jun 3, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    Join facebook group here: “To Bud Selig: Reverse The Blown Call or Quit Your Job!”
    http://www.facebook.com/?sk=media#!/group.php?gid=127705167253774&ref=ts
    Why do people keep talking about implementing instant replay with this incident? YES, we do need replay review because of the blown call last night. But then why aren’t we fixing the perfect game for Galarraga first!???

  11. Will - Jun 3, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Join facebook group here: “To Bud Selig: Reverse The Blown Call or Quit Your Job!”
    http://www.facebook.com/?sk=media#!/group.php?gid=127705167253774&ref=ts
    Why do people keep talking about implementing instant replay with this incident? YES, we do need replay review because of the blown call last night. But then why aren’t we fixing the perfect game for Galarraga first!???

  12. Steve - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    Mr. Selig: Simply reverse the call! This is a single case of an umpire (when has this happened before?)admitting “I blew the call”. No arguements from him either! Yes, every person in the park has gone home, it’s over. But Mr. Selig could have overruled here. And I have millions of folks who agree with how I feel, so I won’t repeat over and over again what most of us would want. Galaragga would have his name in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a NO HITTER!…not the way it is now. That’s what’s most important. I’m sure the two last Cleveland batters wouldn’t mind either.
    What’s nice here is the way the entire Detroit team handled this situation, same for the fans, same for the fans that returned for the day game played on Thursday afternoon..they even applauded Mr. Joyce, the umpire involved here. What a class act.
    All too often MLB hands out fines, suspensions for the bad things that happen with players. Here’s a case of just the opposite. Consider what took place here, consider the immediate reaction by millions of people in such a short period of time! Mr. Selig: Consider what took place and just give Mr. Galaragga his just due…and mainly, give Mr. Joyce his due as well..for having the guts what he did after the game was over! I believe that umpire couldn’t be any happier!
    Mr. Selig: Simply listen to your fans for once. Thank you.

  13. Jim - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    Sixty-six percent of sports fans today voted in favor of Selig overturning the blown call of Galaragga’s perfect game. The other thirty-four percent are obviously lawyers and other idiots that think they are bigger than the game itself.

  14. Mr. honesty - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    Here is a guy,Bud Selig who has preached ,keep the game honest, clean,and do the right thing, like he came straight out of Mayberry, yet when it is gut check time he is a complete yellow belly. The Umpire says sorry and gets a slap on the wrist, when players get fined for far less; even with a public apology. This is ridiculous, it is like finding out a guy in jail is innocent and still making him serve out his sentence. Bud, do the right thing, step up and be a man!

  15. Robert Stowell - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    I think Selig really missed the boat as usual. He looks at Baseball traditions with that stuffy outdated old man syndrome and forgets the historical context of the event. Armando is only the 2nd Latin American player other then Dennis Martinez to throw a perfect game. ONLY THE 21ST IN MAJOR LEAGUE HISTORY. The first for the country of Venezuela. Every tv in that country had turned to the game. He is excluding another country in my opinion in his thought process. Plus contrary to all those ESPN idiots who say it would open Pandora’s box it really wouldn’t IF Selig had any balls in his press conference. This was the last play of the game and the umpire admitted his mistake within minutes of seeing it… It would have been a public relations bonanza for baseball if you would have reversed it.. Selig is just plain stupid. always has been always will.. Instead of doing the right thing BS waffles in the wind as usual. Last play of the game. This is really a easy call to make. Again it will get reversed one day but not until we gat a commissioner with some balls. If this had been a Yankee, Red Sox, or Brewer pitcher it would already have been done. ESPN and all of their Lackeys can go take a fly leap.

  16. Joel - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    It’s simple, put the game in the record books as a perfect game with an asterisk *. Baseball loves those…

  17. waves - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Was Joe DiMaggio hit streak not reversed? If I am not mistake in about game 30 he had no hits because of an error – that was reversed. Error’s can be and this is an error. Everyone saw it – he did it. I can not agree with someone saying it is part of the game to make mistakes. Life is about mistakes but we try to fix them.

  18. Randy C. - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    ON JULY 24, 1983, GEORGE BRETT HIT A HOME RUN IN THE TOP OF THE THE NINTH INNIING TO GIVE THE ROYALS A 5-4 LEAD AGAINST THE YANKEES. YANKEE MANAGER BILLY MARTIN CHALLENGED THE HOME RUN SAYING THE PINE TAR ON BRETTS BAT EXECEED THE LENGTH THAT ANY SUBSTANCE CAN GO FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE BAT TO THE TOP OF THE BAT.
    THE UMPIRES MEASURED THE BAT AND INDEED THE PINE TAR WAS TOO FAR UP THE BAT. UMPIRE TIM MCCLELLAND CALLED BRETT OUT AND THE YANKEES WON THE GAME.
    THE ROYALS PROTESTED THE GAME AND THEN AMERICAN LEAGUE PRESIDENT LEE MACPHAIL OVERRULED THE OUT CALL AND AWARDED BRETT THE HOME RUN.
    THE NEXT DAY THE GAME WAS CONLCUDED WITH THE YANKESS GOING DOWN 1-2-3 IN THE BOTTM OF THE NINTH AND THE ROYALS WINNING THE GAME.
    MY POINT BEING, MISSED CALLS OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE HAVE BEEN AND SHOULD BE OVERTURNED.

  19. Jefrey Welsh - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    I listened to Ken Burns on Countdown with Keith Olberman speak about why he thought that the decision should stand and then it occurred to me he has his own agenda and that is if he protests the decision “Bud Light” and the powers that be in MLB would not grant him access to archival footage that he needs for his documentaries. The ump got it wrong by his own admission, the base runner agreed. If he does the right thing the sun will rise and set again and the earth Will George to continue to rotate on its axis.

  20. Ron from NJ - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    Not quite; check your record books:
    Harvey Haddix took a perfect game into the 13th inning of a game against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959. Haddix retired 36 consecutive batters in 12 innings (before losing the game in the 13th inning).

  21. Baseball Fan from WI - Jun 5, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Some of you are missing a point: Because Galarraga was robbed admittedly by Joyce, his EARNING POTENTIAL over the rest of his lifetime in baseball is now hurt.
    With a perfect game, he would have some collateral to negotitate better pay and a better contract.
    What he should do is talk to his agent and hire the best lawyer around and SUE the umpire for potential lost wages and negligence.
    It wasn’t just a bad call, it was one party hurting the monetary potential of another party.
    And Joyce ADMITTED he made the wrong call.
    Worst call I’ve ever seen and took away an honor from the most exclusive club in major league baseball, possibly the most exclusive club in all of pro sports.
    Baseball fans…how can any of you say how graceful Joyce was in that situation? Something else was going on for him to make that call on the final out of a perfect game. But nobody is brave enough to say that.
    End of story.

  22. JeffBlauserDoesTheChop - Jun 5, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Do you honestly think Galaragga’s ‘earning potential’ will be affected because of this? Do you think that during contract negotiations some GM is going to say to Galarraga’s agent, “Well, we like what this kid has done in the past and would love to have him on our team, but since that umpire blew the call and he technically only pitched a 1-hit shutout on June 2, 2010 instead of a perfect game, we don’t really think we have any reason to throw in this extra 2 million.” I understand that perfect games, no-hitters and Cy Young awards come into play during negotiations for pitchers, but it’s hard to argue Joyce’s blown call will affect how much money Galarraga makes in the future.
    Also, anyone arguing that the Pine Tar incident sets a precedent for a reversal in this case are misrepresenting a classic bit of baseball history. That call was overturned by the AL President Lee MacPhail because it was a misinterpretation of a league rule. The rule against pine tar “more than 18 inches from the tip of the handle” was designed to protect baseballs from getting tar on them, thus affecting their later use in games. No punishment was specified for a batter caught using such a bat. Since the umpire ruled George Brett out (ending the game at that moment) when he had no authority to do so, MacPhail overturned the call and play was resumed where it had ended.
    This is completely different situation. Jim Joyce made a judgment call that was incorrect, albeit in the least opportune time. Judgment calls are the decisions umpires make 99 percent of the time, and sometimes they’re wrong. If someone can find an incident of a judgment call being overturned by league officials, then that would be a precedent for overturning Joyce’s call and I may agree that it needs to be done.
    While I don’t think the call should be overturned, I completely support instant replay for every play in baseball except for balls and strikes.

  23. Putnam Ken - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    The only reason Selig should never even consider reversing what occurred is that such an action then opens a Pandora’s Box of blown calls leading to a never-ending series of petitions to correct every mistake, real or imagined, that has ever occurred in baseball. (Aren’t there a few World Series games out there in need of reversal?)
    The only important result from this mistake – as you correctly write – should be the implementation of some reasonable use of instant video reply. Personally, I’m tired of the anti-instant-replay crowd and their lame justification that, somehow, blown calls are integral to the appeal of the game.
    What? Baseball is all about blown calls? Maybe we should take down the strikes and balls display and see whether the umps can remember what the count is….
    Since when should the soul of any game revolve around ignoring the rules? If the ball beats the runner to first base then the runner is out; if the runner beats the ball then he’s safe; if it’s a tie then the runner is safe. End of story.
    Of course, there could have been a different outcome, a more honorable one. The opposing manager could have come out and admitted the guy was out by a mile. (Oh, right….honor gets left out of our “win-at-all-costs” society – never mind.)

  24. Elzabeth - Jun 11, 2010 at 7:44 AM

    No. Overturning the ump’s call doesn’t change what actually occurred. He pitched a perfect game…the relay tape showed the entire world that he did. No one can change that regardless of what the official record book says. As soon as people, especially our younger people realize “life’s not fair”, we’ll all be better off. It’s something that most of us learned a long time ago. The real lession here is how composed and professional the pitcher and umpire acted during this entire matter.

  25. michael rae - Jun 12, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    The official scorer in the game could charge an error to the 1st basemen for not getting to the ball in intime. Galarraga would not get a perfect game but could still be awarded a no hitter.

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