Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga pitched an amazing game on Wednesday night. He was masterful, really. He struck out only three Indians in nine innings, but he was efficient. He threw just 88 pitches on the night and walked none. He was around the zone and he dominated.
But he wasn't perfect. And he shouldn't be perfect.As I'm sure you've heard, Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game when the Indians' Jason Donald hit a grounder to the hole between first and second base. First baseman Miguel Cabrera was able to snag the ball, turn and fire to first where Galarraga covered in just enough time to get the out.
Except first base umpire Jim Joyce did not see it that way.
Joyce called Donald safe, although he appeared to be out by a half step at the least. Cabrera argued. Tigers' coach Jim Leyland argued. Galarraga just smiled in disbelief.
Joyce admitted his mistake after the game, saying, "it was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the shit out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game."
The right call is clear. Joyce messed it up, but he admitted his wrong doing. So perhaps MLB Commissioner Bud Selig should just overturn the call and declare it a perfect game. He would make Galarraga happy, Tigers fans happy and, most importantly, Joyce happy.
But he really shouldn't.
Jim Joyce was positioned behind first base to make the best possible call he could make. That is his job and that is what he did. He blew the call horribly, yes, but that was the best call he could make at the time. He knows he blew it and we know he blew it ... but that's baseball.
Baseball is not perfect and no one has ever claimed that it is. Joyce made a mistake, but that's what makes baseball great: players, coaches, fans and -- a lot of the time -- umpires just make the wrong moves. They might read a signal wrong and get thrown out trying to steal second. Or they might send in a left-handed pinch-hitter that is 0 for 37 lifetime against the pitcher. Or they might reach over the barrier and grab a ball they shouldn't have touched. Or they might just blow a perfect game.
But that is baseball. And it's not that we should "learn to live with it." It's that we have always been living with it and for such a long time. Baseball is not a new sport and making mistakes in baseball is not foreign. In every game it happens. This time it was just on a very big stage with many eyes peering down.
If Selig reverses the call and gives Galarraga the 21st perfect game in baseball history, it is like taking a giant eraser to baseball history. It's also like taking a lighter to the baseball rulebook.
It was not a perfect game. As much as it should have been a perfect game, it wasn't because Joyce called Donald safe. That's the history. History can not be changed. Selig, although he is the God of Major League Baseball, has no right to overturn the call.
Joyce failed in making the right call. Galarraga failed in accomplishing the perfect game. And Selig will fail if he reverses the call.
This is baseball and we must continue to live with it. Perfect or not.