I once heard it said that officiating is the only job where you have to show up the first day perfect and get better everyday thereafter. An official may not be always right, but they are always the official dispensing the rules and the judgments of the game. I say this in print but there have been times when I’m playing or coaching that this is the furthest thing from my mind or actions.
In a prior post I “predicted” that Baseball Commissioner ‘Bud Selig will still get it wrong and be one step behind any issue.’ When I’m wrong, or in this case partly wrong, I admit it. Bud did the right thing in NOT reversing or over-ruling an umpire’s decision, but still was his clumsy self by promising to examine baseball’s expanded use of instant replay. Give it a rest Bud, the game is in great shape and doesn’t need review of “close” calls. It’s in great shape not because of you and what you do, but because of decent and fair human beings like umpire Jim Joyce and Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga.
Last week Galarraga came within one out of pitching the 21st perfect game in history. A missed call by Joyce at first cost him his part of baseball immortality. And what was Galarraga’s immediate response, he smiled and went back to the mound and finished the game. No yelling and screaming, no jumping up and down, no berating the man, he went back and did his job.
In the aftermath, many called for Bud Selig to overturn the decision and give him the perfect game. Thankfully, it didn’t happen. Many are calling for expanding replay to get this type of plays right. I respectfully disagree. The human element has always been in the game and should be. Let’s not bog down the game as football has with their replay system. Just because technology is available, it doesn’t have to be used. Let managers argue if they chose, but let’s not throw a hat or something lame on the field to “challenge” the ruling, just throw the hat in disgust during the argument and get ejected as historically has happened.
What did happen was that Jim Joyce admitted that he blew the call to Galarraga and apologized to him and Jim Leyland the manager after the game in the Detroit clubhouse. Both understood and accepted. On Thursday, Galarraga took the lineup card to home plate and presented it to Joyce and patted him on the back in a public display of sportsmanship. Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch also awarded Galarraga a Corvette, a wonderful gesture on behalf of the team. All the main parties have shown class and dignity.
A call was blown, but everyone got it right in the bigger picture. I feel badly that Armando didn’t get his perfect game, but he showed us all he understands his fellow man.
One other note, Milt Pappas, the former Chicago Cubs pitcher who lost his bid for a perfect game on September 2, 1972 due to a two out walk in the 9th inning said that instant replay should be installed for just this type of situation, although he feels balls and strikes should remain subjective. Just thinking out loud here, but maybe Pappas could learn something from Armando Galarraga as he still maintains home plate umpire Bruce Froemming squeezed him on two “close” pitches after getting a 2-2 count on pinch-hitter Larry Stahl which resulted in the walk that broke-up the perfecto. Pappas did get his no-hitter by retiring the next batter Garry Jestadt. While Froemming has never admitted he made a mistake and contends he was right (replays do show they were very close), just let it go Milt, 38 years of being a whiner hasn’t changed the call, it shouldn’t and it won’t.
~ Coach Mike