Bud Selig gets one right: The imperfect call stands

Bud Selig just announced he will not overturn the blown call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game. Bud gets a lot of things wrong. This one he got right.

As bad as Jim Joyce’s on-field decision was, the consequences of reversing a call a day after it was made would be far worse. Because why stop at one game in Detroit? Why not go back to October 1985 and strip the Kansas City Royals of the World Series they won after Don Denkinger ruled Jorge Orta safe at first base in the ninth inning of Game 6? (If that happened, John Schuerholz, then the general manager of the Royals, would file a protest of his own.)

Different dynamics, I realize. The St. Louis still had a chance to escape that ninth inning, and they had shot to render Denkinger’s call moot in Game 7. Galarraga will never have another chance to work a perfecto. Sure, it’s a shame. But it’s also part of the game.

“The human element has always been an integral part of baseball,” Selig said today, and humans are inherently flawed. Joyce did nothing wrong on the play — he had the proper angle; he gave it a good look — except for making the wrong judgment. Harsh as this may sound, it happens.

And I submit that Armando Galarraga will reap more out of being unjustly undone than he would have if Joyce had thrown up his thumb. Instead of being the 21st pitcher to get all 27 — and the third this season, and the second in a week — he becomes the most sympathetic figure since Roberto De Vincenzo.

Armando Galarraga also becomes an object lesson in how to handle crushing disappointment. He smiled after the call. (Rasheed Wallace has never once smiled after being whistled for a foul.) Indeed, both the pitcher and the ump handled a sorry set of circumstances with surpassing grace: Joyce said he blew it, and Galarraga said he understood. They behaved, in sum, like adults.

As for Selig’s statement regarding a need for greater accountability … that’s just playing to an audience steamed over the perceived injustice. There’s no way to get every call right. If you insist that umps never miss one, you’ll wind up with no umps. If you employ replay on every close call, you’ll have 4 1/2-hour games.

All baseball can do is to train its men the best it can and then hope like heck they get most of the big calls right. This, sad to say, was a big one that one of the best muffed. But professional baseball has been around since 1869, and it took until 2010 to see a call this egregious. I wouldn’t call that cause for a systemic change.

288 comments Add your comment

slick

June 3rd, 2010
3:53 pm

Good read and very true.

Herschel Talker

June 3rd, 2010
3:54 pm

MB:

Here’s the difference. This was the last call of the game. That makes all the difference in the world, as the butterfly effect is no longer in play. You blew this one as bad as Joyce, who deserves credit for manning up to his mistake.

HT

slick

June 3rd, 2010
3:56 pm

Nope. Can’t do it HT. It’s Pandora’s box.

jarvis

June 3rd, 2010
3:58 pm

If I didn’t disagree with everything you say, I’d agree with you here.

jarvis

June 3rd, 2010
3:59 pm

While I can’t directly agree with MB here, I do agree with all that agree with him in this case.

John Raughter

June 3rd, 2010
4:02 pm

Selig should reverse the call. Bradley warns of the consequences like it has never been done before. Ever hear of the Pine Tar game? That didn’t exactly open the floodgates, did it?

Jerry

June 3rd, 2010
4:03 pm

This is exactly why baseball blows!!! Let the damned Yankees win it EVERY year… And I USED to be a huge baseball fan!!!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 3rd, 2010
4:03 pm

Agreed! Like I just said on Schultz’s column, how about a blog on the legend of Griffey Jr. and his almost tenure as a Brave? A great player retired last night!

iopbrave

June 3rd, 2010
4:04 pm

the play should stand -as i recall there were some balls that Halladay throw in his perfect game that were called strikes but on replay would have been balls and thus a walk- I don’t hear anyone wanting to go there and review his perfect game

JOHN RUNYON

June 3rd, 2010
4:04 pm

YOU GUYS HAVE NO SENSE OF FAIRNESS AND DECENCY – THIS IS NOT SOMETHING ANYONE CAN FIGHT ABOUT – HE PITCHED A PERFECT GAME AND SHOULD FOR IT. IF DOES NOT GET IT – BASEBALL HAS NO INTEGRITY AND IS LOST.

Bill

June 3rd, 2010
4:05 pm

You got this one right. The call stands the game outcome stays the same. No instand replays other than what we have are needed. Don’t slow the game down. To bad about the perfect game, but a win is a win…..

Tokyo Tom

June 3rd, 2010
4:05 pm

If a fielder makes an error on 27th batter the perfect game is lost. In this case, the ump made the error instead of a fielder. Refreshing in this tragedy to see the high level of professionalism shown by both Gallaraga and Joyce. Gallaraga’s one hitter will be remembered long after the two perfect games earlier this year are forgotten.

GT 1990

June 3rd, 2010
4:05 pm

Forget the 1985 World Series. Let’s go back to 1990 and take away Colorado’s 5th down and inappropriate share of the National title!

JH in Murray

June 3rd, 2010
4:06 pm

Mark Bradley,

Did the AJC make you write this column while Jeff Schultz got to write the other side? It just makes too much sense to overturn the call. As was pointed out, it was (or should have been) the *last* call of an historic game. Galarraga gets his just reward, Jim Joyce gets relief and the “sanctity” of baseball will not be disturbed.

Marc in FL

June 3rd, 2010
4:08 pm

What makes baseball great is it’s imperfect; probably more so than any other sport. Even the statistics are only semi-relevant in many cases. As bad as that call was, most bad calls go in a team’s favor. The Tigers will benefit from more screw ups than will hurt them – this one was just magnified, but is still the exception.

Besides, Galarraga would have pitched a perfect game and been forgotten about 5 years from now except as an Aflac Quiz. Now he will be remembered for decades as a key participant in one of the worst blown calls in baseball history. A legacy is born.

Angus

June 3rd, 2010
4:09 pm

Yes – it must be so.

Mark, your reasoning on this is as good as your CPJ blog was bad.

Pete*

June 3rd, 2010
4:09 pm

John, your comparison to the “pine tar” game is not valid. The “PT” game involved changing the result of the game from a loss to a win, due to an umpire misinterpreting the rules. That game followed proper channels, which is to file an official “protest” with MLB due to the outcome of the game which a team believes is wrong.
Detroit canot protest the game because 1) they won the game, and 2) there was no misinterpretation of any rule. I strongly dislike Bud Selig, but he did the right thing here. Youre comparing apples with oranges.

Braves Won!

June 3rd, 2010
4:09 pm

I am 50/50 on this. Is see Selig’s and MB point. You change this “yes it was the last out of the game” then why stop there. On the other hand, this was such a bad call that even a blind person could see he was out. So basically it’s a lose, lose situation for Selig. I think Selig made the right decision letting it stand. Though, I would think differently if this were one of the Braves pitchers.

Braves Won!

June 3rd, 2010
4:12 pm

Marc in FL

You have a good point LOL. It’s sad but Galarraga will be remembered more now, than if had pitched a perfect game.

moorman

June 3rd, 2010
4:13 pm

guarantee you if a call cost the braves a world series, mark, you wouldnt be saying that. aint you the SAME one who said the NBA should replay the last few minutes cavaliers hawks game this past season???

Doug Little

June 3rd, 2010
4:13 pm

There is no doubt that it was out, everybody knows it was out, everybody knows it was perfect. So I ask you, why not give Galarraga his place in history? What harm will it do? Quite frankly I’m sick of hearing about some stupid slippery slope argument it doesn’t apply, and to say that human fallibility is part of the game is just as insane, You don’t think for one second that when baseball first started if the technology was available to review critical plays that they wouldn’t utilize it, it’s time to bring some new technology to the party and bring the Amish sport of baseball into the 21st century.

iopbrave

June 3rd, 2010
4:13 pm

Jim Joyce made history for himself and Galarraga – the only way an umpire can make history is by blowing a call- it did not affect the outcome of the game and that is the bottom line- if the next guy had homered and they lost – the outcry would be deafening

Juan

June 3rd, 2010
4:14 pm

The should get it right. Being the last out of the game, the next batter also was out just in case…
The thing here is there is no pandora box, since this situation is unique, by definition. So the could make a rule that read like this: “The last play (for the 27 out) of a perfect game bid could be reviewed by [whatever MLB decide system or person or comitee] retroactively effective June 3, 2010.”
The odds of happening that again and having someone else asking for the same treatment is very very slim.
Here common sense, justice, fairness and any other sentiment related should be above any other concept.

drew

June 3rd, 2010
4:17 pm

MB, you’re wrong.
Just do the math: Wrong + wrong = wrong!

Hedley Lamar

June 3rd, 2010
4:17 pm

W R O N G ! ! !

Mark Bradley

June 3rd, 2010
4:18 pm

Thanks, slick. Kudos also

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Brenda Clayson. Brenda Clayson said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Bud Selig gets one right: The imperfect call stands http://bit.ly/9TktuH [...]

David

June 3rd, 2010
4:19 pm

“perceived injustice”? – Please explain.

Tech Fan Since 1950

June 3rd, 2010
4:20 pm

This whole concept sounds like the BCS to me. Do not get it right, just let it go, and go, and go,
even when technology, the public sentiment, integrity and the facts say it is wrong.

Hedley Lamarr

June 3rd, 2010
4:20 pm

Ooops – WRONG ! should have come from Buddy Bizarre – sorry!!

Sonny Clusters

June 3rd, 2010
4:21 pm

One time Stinky Wintes hit a ball in the gap and he was running full speed when he saw the ball get by the fielder and he turned on the jets and slid hard into third base and was called “out” by the umpire even though the ball arrived, on a bounce, after Stinky had already touched third base. We always figured it was because the umpire didn’t want a stinky Stinky Wintes, all sweaty and nasty, standing on third base waiting for somebody to bring him in and the umpire had nowhere to go. He just called Stinky out anyway. Coach come running out of the dugout and said, “you can’t call that boy out when the ball wasn’t even in the infield yet when he touched the base” and the umpire just threw Coach out of the game and we lost that game to a team from Cobb County. We was going to appeal the game but they didn’t want Stinky in the building where they held the appeals. He was a good hitter but he had some flaws.

Baseball Expert

June 3rd, 2010
4:21 pm

Here’s what should happen: MLB should implement a challenge system sometime during the season. The manager can challenge two questionable plays on the bases, or questionable fair/foul balls.

When the Tigers/Indians play again, before the actual game, let them resume the perfect game and allow them the opportunity to challenge the call. Umpires review, perfect game is rewarded, and they play their scheduled game.

The review system shouldn’t be that bad on time, it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes. The manager spends more than 2 minutes arguing the call ANYWAY, why not use that 2 minutes to review the play and get it right?

Shonda

June 3rd, 2010
4:22 pm

Mark took the opposite view of Jeff Schultz on this topic.

As always, Mark is correct. Jeff Schultz is… as much as can be expected at this point.

Mark Bradley is the best sports writer at the AJC. Jeff Schultz is not.

We don’t need any “Instant Replay” to see that.

Braves Won!

June 3rd, 2010
4:23 pm

Baseball Expert

So they should replay the blown call?

Mark Bradley

June 3rd, 2010
4:24 pm

The stink factor is frequently overlooked in baseball, Sonny Clusters.

GT Alum

June 3rd, 2010
4:24 pm

What, so just because there’s a history of blown calls, you can never take a step to correct the issue now and in the future? If you’re Selig, you can set a precedent where there’s a statute of limitations on how long after a call is made that it can be overturned. He could also establish it so that these overrules would only impact that call, and not subsequent impact on the game, like the NBA does with rescinding technical fouls.

Also, I don’t agree that using replay on every call will cause 4.5 hour games. You could do like college football does, and have an extra official in a booth watching the game on a TV, and, if he sees something that doesn’t match the official’s call on the field, he signals the field crew. The NFL’s system of challenges and having an official on the field go into a booth to review the call is stupid and slows the game down unnecessarily.

Just because something is currently done poorly doesn’t mean you can’t improve on it.

David

June 3rd, 2010
4:25 pm

You know you are on the wrong path when you agree with Selig. He is solely responsible for the decline of interest in baseball, the failure to respond to PEDs in baseball, the insane use of the all-star game to impact the world series, the imbalanced schedule, the failed realignment of teams, over-expansion, the strike, the failure to implement instant replay, etc…

You and Bud’s pandora box argument is completely wrong. This was the last out in the game. This was not a judgment call. Balls and strikes and balks are judgment calls. Out, safe, fair or fail are black and white calls that can be made with 100% accuracy, why settle for less.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
4:27 pm

Herschel Talker is right. Most blown calls occur in the middle of a game, and it’s impossible to tell what would happen if the call had not been blown. In this case, it was cut and dried. If the ump gets the call right, the game is over and Galarraga has a perfect game. It’s that simple.

Put it this way — if it was Game 7 of the World Series, bases loaded, 2 outs, bottom of the 9th, and the team at bat is down by 1 and this play occurs, allowing the tying run to score instead of the game ending, should Selig not overturn that either?

I think the “opening the Pandora’s box” principle can be amended to allow for overruling bad calls on the 27th out.

wawel78

June 3rd, 2010
4:30 pm

if the new rule was retroactive back to June 3rd, it would not affect a game played on June 2nd. I submit that if this rule is changed, we should go back to every game that could potentially have been a perfect game/no-hitter and make sure that, for example, no bad call in the 1st-8th innings affected the potential of a perfect game. It is the same situation. This one just happened to be in the 9th.

Sux really bad for Galarraga but them’s the rules of the game.

Stuck In Kentucky

June 3rd, 2010
4:31 pm

Mark, I love reading your articles and I really appreciate your points of view. However, this was a chance to set a precedent for the future. This also was not a game changing call, the Tigers were going to win. Also, doesn’t MLB go back and take away errors where it should have been a hit and vice versa? That is all this would be in my opinion. He did throw a perfect game regardless of the call. I can say that UK’s colors are red and black, but that does not make it true no matter what authority I have. Same with the ump, no matter if he called it safe, the runner is out. This sticking to legalistic traditions keeps change from happening. I cannot go back and atone for the mistakes of my fathers but I can prevent the same ones from occuring. Saying that it is a part of the game would prevent further evolution to improve the sport. What if the same argument was used when the batting helmet was invented or the glove. “Well in my day we all took one to the dome and had about 8 concussions a year, i know i eat through a straw now, but we didn’t use no stupid helmets!!” Also don’t you think the players and umps going forward would feel better knowing that if a mistake is made that it has a chance to be rectified latter? Thanks for your great work Mark, I really appreciate it.

JPond

June 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

The dignity and the grace will still be there as to their reactions to the awful incident. Do the right thing and give the man his perfect game! Period!

Michael

June 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

Oh good grief Mark. Hyperbole much? This is not Pandora’s box. Changing this would merely be correcting an obvious and extremely isolated wrong. It would set no precedent and nothing else would change.

David

June 3rd, 2010
4:34 pm

Mark, please stop sending kudos to those that agree with you, it’s really not becoming. Address the fact that you made the wrong call and admit your mistake like Jim Joyce did. In this whole thing Jim Joyce actually comes out very positive. Bud Selig has once again ascended his throne to the biggest loser in baseball.

GTSteve

June 3rd, 2010
4:36 pm

This is the right thing to do, but I sure was hoping he would overturn it and give the kid his perfecto

wawel78

June 3rd, 2010
4:37 pm

Comparing a safety rule of the game to an umpire’s judgment is apples/oranges. IMO, if you change 1 call, you have to change them all.

David

June 3rd, 2010
4:37 pm

“All baseball can do is to train its men the best it can and then hope like heck they get most of the big calls right.” AND correct clearly wrong calls that do not impact the score or result of the game, they allow the official score keeper to do this, how would changing this call be any different than changing an error to a hit?

JMLDawg

June 3rd, 2010
4:37 pm

I had never even heard of Armando Galarraga until I saw the story this morning. But now he can count me as one of his fans. The grace he has shown, from the moment of the blown call through the meeting with the umpire and the ensuing interviews, has impressed me immensely. This man is a class act, which ultimately is even more important than a perfect game.
Viva Armando Galarraga!
Kudos also to Jim Joyce who was man enough to admit that he made a mistake and apologized for it. Not an easy thing to do.

sportsmandh

June 3rd, 2010
4:38 pm

Mark,
Gotta agree with Schultz on this one, and not you. I am a traditionalist. But baseball has already changed, by allowing calls on homeruns in play or over the fence. I am not for instituting a lot of instant replay, except maybe one or two challenges per game by the manager. This is a lot different and unique situation. It was the last out of the game, and the Tigers were going to win up by 3 runs. It was also not a case of where the play is questionable. I would agree not to overturn the call if it was the least bit questionable. This however was not. Everyone can see it was dead wrong.

Here is a case where idiot Selig had a chance to make a good impression on the sports public. For a sport that could use more good PR. And he completely blows the chance again.

SC Smith

June 3rd, 2010
4:38 pm

Offical scorers get changed all the time. But have never heard an umpires call changed. But just the other day the NBA changed a refs. technical foul call, keeping a player Perkins playing. So why not, it won’t change the winner of the game, but the perfect game should be there. But I also see the point on the Pandoras box thing, where would it end?

john w

June 3rd, 2010
4:38 pm

Mark u r so wrong on this. The historical signifance of this is too great! You have an umpire who admitted his mistake and apoligized. This had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. The right thing to do is to reverse the call and give this kid his just do in history!!!