With only 18 perfect games in baseball history before this season, and then two 27-outers this past month, you would think the baseball world would have to wait for the Jenna Bush Presidency to see the next one.
But no, much like the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the perfectos just don’t stop in 2010 and here today, Armando Galarraga was mowing down the Triple-A Cleveland Indians – no runs, no hits, and no errors.
And on out No. 27, a sharp ground ball in the hole by Jason Donald scooped up by Miguel Cabrera who tossed it over to the man of the hour covering and there you have …
But wait, first base umpire Jim Joyce called him safe at first, even though replays showed Donald out by a step and a half.
“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce would tell reporters in Detroit. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.
“It was the biggest call of my career.”
No matter how much outrage comes out of Detroit and how many calls for instant replay come from columnists, reporters, and even bloggers, Major League Baseball must resist the urge to either change the call or institute any rule changes due to this call.
Baseball is a human game. Played by humans and arbitrated by imperfect men. It’s the reason why they count errors in the game. It’s the reason why it’s the National Pastime.
Historically, baseball has been filled with bad calls – just ask the Cardinals what they thought of Don Denkinger’s call in the 1985 World Series or the Orioles with Jeffrey Maier’s interference catch in the 1996 American League Championship Series with the Yankees.
Those plays are part of baseball lore now, as will Galarraga’s imperfect game of 28 outs. Sure, the Tiger fans will make their calls for play to be overturned and the Detroit Free Press columnists will burn Joyce in effigy, yet that doesn’t change the fact that the Indians had one hit in the game coming on out No. 27.
Right now, baseball has a very good instant replay rule. Umpires should be allowed to review the outfield calls, because these days with so many ads odd colored signs out there, it’s tough to make a home run call from 200 feet away.
But with calls at first base, MLB should think twice. Joyce was all of two feet away from the play and should have made the right call. And even when he didn’t the call didn’t change the outcome, as the Tigers won 3-0. The human factor needs to be there. It’s what makes this game great.
Years from now, Dallas Braden will still be remembered as the pitcher who stood up for A-Rod and Roy Halladay just added to his Hall of Fame resume. But Galarraga will be forever remembered as the man who pitched the one that got away. Not perfect game No. 21, but imperfect game No. 1.
It’s part of baseball lore and will forever be in this great game’s history.