Baseball must add replay to avoid more ‘imperfect’ games

Armando Galarraga smiles at the absurdity of umpire Jim Joyce's call.

Armando Galarraga smiles at the absurdity of umpire Jim Joyce's call.

It’s funny how baseball gets picked on sometimes for being like the stodgy old coot on the front porch who never wants to see anything change. Fact is, when the sport does make a change, it usually gets it wrong.

It instituted the sport’s first full-time part-time player (designated hitter) and then compounded this mistake by sticking it in only one league. It foolishly tried to add meaning to the All-Star Game by giving the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. And, of course, the one time owners actually were unified and determined to change baseball’s economic system, they colluded. Not smart. Also not legal.

Well, baseball does need to change one thing. Now. It needs to add television replay to make up for the human mistakes of umpires.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night. The only guy who didn’t realize it was first base umpire Jim Joyce, who will not be remembered as fondly as James Joyce.

On what should have been the 27th out following the 27th Indians’ batter of the game, this is what happened: Jason Donald hit a ground ball to first base. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera fielded it to his right. He tossed the ball to Galarraga, who clearly got to the base before Donald. The side view at the end of the video below will show you just how close this play wasn’t.

Take a look:

People make mistakes, and to Joyce’s credit, he admitted his blunder: “I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

But the problem is that baseball’s officiating crews have a history of being the most obstinate, arrogant and even obnoxious of the four sports’ officials.

Too many umps believe they are the show. This is not a new observation. It’s just too accurate and has gone on for too long.

Baseball umpires don’t want controversial replays shown on stadium video boards because it might make them look bad. They hated it when officials started using technology analysis of ball-and-strike calls with things like “QuecTec” and “Zone Evaluation.”

Football uses replay to correct mistakes all the time on the most crucial of plays: touchdowns and fumbles. Hockey uses replay to confirm (or negate) goals. Basketball uses replay to adjust time remaining on the play clock. Baseball is stuck in the era of the sundial.

If it takes an embarrassment like this to convince baseball to add replay for close calls — and force umpires to bury their egos — then at least the sport finally will have moved forward.

But Galarraga will still have to settle for throwing baseball’s most perfect imperfect game.

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159 comments Add your comment

GGP

June 2nd, 2010
10:16 pm

GGP

June 2nd, 2010
10:18 pm

Glad the ump could admit his mistake. Gotta be tough for a professional umpire to know he cost a kid a perfect game.

Reid Adair

June 2nd, 2010
10:21 pm

That was pathetic. It wasn’t even close. Someone tried to say it was a “bang-bang” play. It wasn’t.

Jim Joyce gets paid to make the calls, and that wasn’t nearly as close as some would like people to believe.

Holy Smokes!

June 2nd, 2010
10:22 pm

It wasn’t even close. How do you miss that call? MLB HAS to reverse the call and give him the perfect game. There has to be a way for managers to challenge one or two questionable calls per game.

OhMyDawgs

June 2nd, 2010
10:24 pm

I know it will popular to pile on that umpire for the blown call, but he could not have been more upfront and direct in admitting the mistake. Very admirable. Would be nice if some of our politicians could do the same. Galaragga will likely get an endorsement deal out of this and end up making it ok.

Tom

June 2nd, 2010
10:24 pm

Since the ump admitted he missed the call, is there anyway the Commissioner or MLB can correct to the right call?? Or is this a dead issue? Would like to know!

YoungerThan ThatNow

June 2nd, 2010
10:24 pm

I watched the last two innings of this game and you could just sense something afoul after the second out of the top of the ninth inning… especially after such a great play on the first out of the inning. But I never thought the umpiring crew would be what went wrong. But it was clear on the actual play… not the replay… the actual play.

But I do credit Jim Joyce for facing up to his error and telling it as it is… “I just cost that kid a perfect game”. Indeed he did.

tipster

June 2nd, 2010
10:27 pm

I can’t understand why MLB can’t easily institute a replay system like football. You get a certain number of challenges a game (not including called balls and strikes). Why is this so hard for them to do? I know judgement is part of the game, but if the technology exists to “get the call right,” why wouldn’t they use it.

Philip Tortora

June 2nd, 2010
10:27 pm

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig absolutely has to apply common sense here, and award Armando Galaragga a perfect game. Selig must use his authoritative powers and overrule the blown call by Jim Joyce

http://philiptortora.blogspot.com/2010/06/major-league-baseball-should-reverse.html

PlusSizeModel

June 2nd, 2010
10:30 pm

Damn, even the runner looked bummed by the call!

YoungerThan ThatNow

June 2nd, 2010
10:32 pm

And I’ll say this… at least 98% of the time, the replays show that the umpire made the correct call. And he doesn’t get the benefit of a replay and has to make the call in a nano second… still, they make the correct call the vast majority of the time. The only time an umpire is recognized, as is the case here, is when he blows a call.

As far as the issue of having the replay as a part of the game… I’m on the fence. I would like to see the ultimate call to be correct… but doesn’t that take away the human aspect of the game?!?

Now, the DH and the all-star winner determining home field advantage for the world series…

cheshire

June 2nd, 2010
10:33 pm

Tom, i was wondering the same thing. I know it’s pretty rare for sports to go back and correct things after the fact, but this seems like a clear cut case where it would be okay to do so. Had it been a situation where it was the first or second out of the inning that would be different, but it was the last out of the game and it’s obvious what happened and what should have happened. I don’t know what the argument would be against Selig stepping in and fixing it other than falling back on some stupid principle.

Mr Charlie

June 2nd, 2010
10:36 pm

Now way they “award” him anything. He got 29 in a row, and was the pitcher to have the only perfect game get blown with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th by a bad call. He gets his own space in the HOF, he does not need to share it with the other 19 pitchers. Cudos to the Ump for taking responsibility and showing class. It is refreshing.

PlusSizeModel

June 2nd, 2010
10:36 pm

I also can’t figure out how the pitcher didn’t go ballistic. I sure wouldn’t be smiling, of all things.

bravos

June 2nd, 2010
10:37 pm

GIVE GALLARAGA THE PERFECT GAME BACK! HEY JIM JOYCE IF YOU’RE TRULY REGRETFUL GO TO THE COMMISH OF BASEBALL AND TELL HIM TO CHANGE IT TO A PERFECT GAME! THE THING THAT PISSES ME OFF WAS HOW ARROGANT AND IGNORANT JIM JOYCE WAS OF THE CALL HE MADE get thoughts from the other umps id say most of them would consider it an out!!!!

captainamerica

June 2nd, 2010
10:37 pm

any way mlb can overrule the screw up and give the pitcher the perfect game he so clearly deserves?

Mr Charlie

June 2nd, 2010
10:41 pm

It is not that big a deal, sure it is a great accomplishment, or milestone, a place in history, but under the rules, he did not get the perfect game. Can’t go “awarding” them, he got his place in history. I also think the Ump called it like he saw it, and that is the game.

Mr Charlie

June 2nd, 2010
10:44 pm

How many other one hitter/29 batters game have there been? Or no hitters with walks? Now do we have to go back and revew them all to see if a call might have been blown? Or how about walks that killed perfect games, should we go back and put them all the pitchers under the strike zone cam to see if they were truly balls? Again, he did not get it, but what he did do should get him a place in the HOF in the perfect game exhibit.

Mr Charlie

June 2nd, 2010
10:46 pm

Or, what if a call gets blown in a WS game? Should we “award” the team a championship?

Herschel Talker

June 2nd, 2010
10:47 pm

Well said, Schultzie. Kudos though to Jim Joyce for admitting the error and apologizing. He’s only human.

sheeesh

June 2nd, 2010
10:55 pm

I think the ump got it right and no one realizes it – not even the ump himself. I saw a replay from the third-base camera that shows that the pitcher did not have the ball secured in his glove when the runner reached the bag. The ball was being slightly bobbled. This is not why the ump called the runner ’safe’, but that is what happened. So it was the right call for the wrong reason. Too bad for the Tiger pitcher, but instant replay would have shown it was the right call.

Instant replay in all sports sucks. It does not ensure that all mistakes are eliminated. Officials seem to find ways to blow it even when they have replay. Not to mention the number of instances where replay is not allowed. I think it should be eliminated completely. If you want technologically accurate games, go play your computer games in your mom’s basement.

Tom

June 2nd, 2010
10:57 pm

Mr Charlie – Are you really a baseball fan or someone who is just having a bad day?? You sound awful mean spirited to me, get a life!!

Dayman

June 2nd, 2010
10:58 pm

I feel terrible for the kid. I don’t however feel terrible for the ump like some do. I don’t understand how you call the runner safe there, you have to be a real moron. IT WASN’T EVEN CLOSE!!!!!

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:00 pm

In the umpires defense everybody says it was an easy call. I have watched the replay live and it was alot closer than they make it out to be. Even on the replay you can’t tell exactly when Gallarraga’s foot came down on the base. I agree that 99% of the time he is called out. Now we have to listen to all these media guys blast the umpire when most of them wouldn’t have the balls to call a little league game. I do feel for Gallaraga, but alot of people could learn something from Gallaraga’s and Joyce’s class act after the game.

rc35

June 2nd, 2010
11:01 pm

At the very least, this umpire should be suspended without pay for a week. That would be a weak penalty, but MLB has to do something to show that flagrantly erroneous calls like that cannot just be overlooked.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:02 pm

Dayman you don’t know what you are talking about. Watch the play live and you tell me it wasn’t close. Let me call the MLB Umpires Association and give them your name. By the way how many games have you umpired. That is what I thought.

Coach (2011 or Bust)

June 2nd, 2010
11:04 pm

Tragic, simply tragic. If this doesn’t open the door for instant replay, nothing will. Yes Jim Joyce admitted he blew the call but it wasn’t even close as the runner was out by a full step. Joyce made a brutal call.

My two cents: give the umpires the ability to check the video replay and change the call but leave it up to the umpires discretion. Baseball is a game of inches sometimes decided by the slimmest of margins, human error shouldn’t be allowed to stretch these limits.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:04 pm

Listening to the Tigers they put the win above a great individual accomplishment. Class Act!

Dayman

June 2nd, 2010
11:06 pm

Whatever, I promise I’ve been around the game more and watched way more baseball than you and there is no way you call the runner safe there. He was out by a step plus. And I umpired little league games in college so GTH.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:08 pm

Everybody wants replay. Part of baseball is arguments with the umpires and it should remain a part of the game. I’m not sure replay should be used. We have taken the human element out of so many things. It has cost people jobs.

Dandy Don

June 2nd, 2010
11:10 pm

Instant replay should be used.

Gwinnett Fred

June 2nd, 2010
11:12 pm

At least Len Barker can still hold the title of worst pitcher ever to throw a perfect game.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:12 pm

Dayman – He was not out by a step plus. What replay or you watching. Even on the replay in slow motion it is not even a step plus. I agree he was out but to say it was cut dry is stupid. Oh you umpired little league games. I can see why you went no higher. Oh by the way my life and way of making a living is baseball. So I believe I have been around alot more than you.

Moot Point

June 2nd, 2010
11:13 pm

Yes he missed the call. But why was Cabrera fielding the ball all the way over there in the first place? Freeze the above video at the 1:05 mark and tell me the second baseman wouldn’t have gotten him by three steps if Cabrera had just stayed home. If I’m Galarraga, that’s what I’m thinking.

mrs. jim joyce

June 2nd, 2010
11:14 pm

“i umpired little league games in college so GTH.”

love it.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:15 pm

Yea why don’t we let computers pitch it and hit it. Bobby Cox is known for all his ejections. That is part of baseball. After further review he was safe, oh by the way umpires we do not need you anymore.

Delbert D.

June 2nd, 2010
11:15 pm

There was a big blown call in the Braves-Twins world series game 7 in the Metrodome when the Twins’ 1st baseman wrestled the Braves’ runner off the bag and the ump called him out.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:16 pm

Bottom line is the kid pitched a great game and even though he didn’t get the perfect game or nohitter he made himself a hero with his class. If it was the NBA there would have been a damn riot and probably a killing.

Coach (2011 or Bust)

June 2nd, 2010
11:24 pm

How many of you have seen a perfect game in person at a ML baseball game? the answer is obvious.

There are seventeen thousand Tigers fans who went home tonight feeling empty and cheated because they were. Seventeen thousand baseball fans who should have seen history for only the 21st time in more 120 years of ML baseball, and they will almost certainly never be afforded the chance to see a perfect game again and that is tragic.

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TheAntiMe

June 2nd, 2010
11:29 pm

Unfortunately, even very good umpires can’t get past their egos and way too many times on a close, or even semi-close call, if a player doesn’t wait for the umpire to officially make the call the umpire will rule against that player just to make the point that you don’t assume a close call and show the umpires up.

That is very overly sensitive as no one is trying to show these umpires up but the are getting more and more insecure with each passing year. After all, how many times have we seen on a 3-2 count the pitch be six inches outside and the batter start to go to first base only to have the umpire make a very late call of strike and call the batter out, basically for having the nerve not to let the umpire make the call first. This also happened in today’s game when the Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick started to first base on a pitch that was clearly ball 4 but the home plate umpire refused to be shown up by a hot shot player.

Think back to the Texas Rangers game a week ago when the umpiring crew chief refused to review an errant call on what was a home run by Josh Hamilton only because he didn’t want to hurt another umpires’ feelings. It’s abundantly clear that many of today’s umpires resent anyone having the gall to question their judgement to the point that even when they have the tools like replay to get the call right, their egos as well as their insecurities cause them to refuse to do what is allowable to get the call right.

I believe that Joyce really just made an honest, albeit huge, mistake because it was a career defining moment for all involved and he choked and just got it wrong. However, we have all seen umps like Bob Davidson and Joe West make bad calls just to spite the players and managers of whom they are so very jealous.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:29 pm

Coach – I agree the fans are disappointed but that is life. Anytime the human element is involved you will have error. We have taken the human element out of so many things that we have people that are unemployed and that is disappointing. That is tragic. The great thing about it is that they have another chance and that is what is so great about sports.

jesse james

June 2nd, 2010
11:32 pm

The worst call I have ever seen was in last years playoffs when the Angels got the Yankee runners out at third. Ego hungry Tim Mclellend made the call. Yes some of them do think they are bigger than the game.

gcs

June 2nd, 2010
11:39 pm

OMG, Schultz! You could not be more wrong. If you introduce television replay it will ruin the game.

You and other misguided fans out there think that replay would have helped this “almost perfect” game. But do you know what? Even if the next guy had hit a home run, the Tigers would still have won the game. It really didn’t matter.

If MLB has replay for plays like this one, they will have to have replay for every single close play. Even if it a 12-0 game between two eliminated teams playing after a two hour rain delay. Do you really want the game slowed down even more?

The only stat in baseball that really counts in wins and losses. There are no style points in baseball. I am sorry Galarraga lost his perfect game, but take the W and move on.

.

Kane337

June 2nd, 2010
11:39 pm

Baseball has long been reactive instead of proactive. Drug testing steroids, home run instant replay, and now this.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 2nd, 2010
11:43 pm

Considering the situation, that may be the single worst call I’ve ever seen in any sport.

Kane337

June 2nd, 2010
11:44 pm

The NHL refs used instant replay twice tonight to verify goals in the Stanley Cup finals. One review was called a goal, the other was not. The refs got the calls right. Isn’t that their job? What a novel concept!!!!!!!!

Bonny

June 2nd, 2010
11:44 pm

Jim Joyce deserves to be fired. I don’t care he admitted anything, he failed to do his job, not on a hair splitting call, but a BLATANT call that he failed to see correctly.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 2nd, 2010
11:45 pm

For the record, cricket — an even slower sport than baseball — has instant replay, and they manage to use it without slowing the game down considerably by having an umpire who sits in a booth and is solely responsible for evaluating the replay. Baseball could do the same thing and not have to worry about adding to the already long game time.

Kane337

June 2nd, 2010
11:48 pm

The human element is way overrated and opens itself to disasters like this. For those that clamor to instant replay ruining the game……What has ruined the game more today? Not having instant replay or having it so the poor ump could get the call right?