Scout’s Take: Baseball, Fair or Foul

Major League Baseball has made a great push to make their game as perfect as possible. They have tried to make it an event that has no flaws and where every team and player is judged out or safe with the use of the most technological equipment on the planet. We watch games now with “The Square Box” over the plate and a dot stuck where a computer tells us if it was a strike or ball. I always thought it was a strike when the umpire said it was a strike. That piece of TV technology drives me nuts. It will inevitably make 50% of us happy and 50% of us angry on every single pitch. On average there are approximately 300 pitches to view in a nine inning game. That’s a lot of anger if your team is losing that day. Sure enough all of this has been discussed over and over for the past five or so years, but hey, it’s the off season now. Time for all kinds of discussions, rants and crazy ideas about this game.

Most of this need to make things fair was the result of the clamor for justice that came about on June 10, 2010, when Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga lost his perfect game after first base umpire Jim Joyce blew a call. Joyce called Cleveland Indians’ batter, Jason Donald, safe when it was quite clear that he was out by two feet. It should have been the last out of a brilliantly pitched game by a little known pitcher from Detroit. Unfair, no way, kill the umpire, call the Coast Guard! Seriously, would anyone even know who Armando Galarraga was today if not for that “Imperfect Game?” It was not a perfect game because the umpire also needed to be perfect. Too bad for Galarraga, but what a story! What would you rather have, perfection or a great story. In 140 years with over 210,000 games played, there have been only 23 perfect games and no pitcher has ever thrown more than one, but how many of the twenty three can you name? Thought so. Every Mets fan will know one. Philip Gregory Humber, who began his career as a Met in 2004 as the number three over-all pick and debuted in 2006. He pitched one for the White Sox in 2012. He ended up with a life time MLB record of 16-23. Nothing to remember. Armando Galarraga? I remember him.

Baseball has been a game that we can relate to because, like life, it isn’t fair. This year in the post season we saw something that was not fair, that baseball got wrong and could not change. In Game 5 of the Cubs-Nationals NLDS, the Cubs Javier Baez struck out and inadvertently hit catcher Matt Wieters’ mask during his backswing. Prior to Baez’ bat making contact with the catcher’s mask, the pitch got past Wieters and rolled to the backstop for a passed ball. The ball was still live, or so we thought. The passed ball allowed runners to advance and Chicago to score an important run when Wieters threw the ball away trying to throw out Baez. Home plate Umpire Jerry Layne ruled incorrectly and allowed the play to continue. By rule, the batter should have been out and no runners advance. Being as it would have been the last out of the inning, the Cubs should never have been awarded two more runs. The Nationals lost by one run in that deciding game of their Divisional Series. MLB’s Joe Torre admitted the error weeks later. I repeat, “Life and baseball are not always fair.”

So much for making the game perfect for everyone. But again, we have another good story. Good for the Cubs fans and not so good for the Nationals fans. Who knows? If Washington wins that game and eventually gets to the World Series, Dusty Baker may still have a job. The city of Washington is not having a good year in more ways than one.

There will be many topics discussed around dinner tables this holiday season. Stay cool and have your facts correct and remember, there are only 94 days until “Pitchers and Catchers.”

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