Friday, June 4, 2010
Rant #270: Yer Out!
As a baseball fan, I had to cringe when veteran umpire Jim Joyce called the Cleveland Indians' Jason Donald safe during a game where Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga was on the verge of pitching a perfect game.
And cringe I did, because the call was wrong.
But in the aftermath of this error--on the umpire this time--I think, for once, Major League Baseball got it all right.
I was watching the Yankees drubbing the Orioles again, and when I heard that Galarraga was in the midst of this gem, I turned over to the MLB Network to see the last three outs.
The first was routine, the second less so. Unfortunately, lost because of the umpire misplay was an absolutely fantastic catch by the Tigers' centerfielder, Austin Jackson. If this were a perfect world, Jackson's catch for the second out would have gone into the history books as the catch that saved the perfect game.
Well, onto what should have been the third out. Donald hit the ball to the right side. The first baseman ranged way to far to his right to grab the ball, and he threw to first, where Galaragga snared the ball, put his foot on the bag a clear step ahead of Donald, and that was it.
But Joyce called the runner safe!
No, this could not be! But it was.
The next out was recorded, and Galaragga had a one-hitter. Not nearly as good as a perfect game, but still pretty good.
Well, after the game, Joyce, a veteran umpire who is probably one of the best in the business, admitted that he blew the call.
Galaragga, almost understandably, blew his stack.
But evidently, both made their amends to each other.
Before yesterday's game, Galaragga was presented with a car, which I am sure soothed his wound a little bit (but he can probably afford this car himself--he should donate it to a worthy cause). He also carried out the lineup card, and presented it to Joyce, who was behind the plate for this game. They jokingly patted each other on the head, and that was that.
Baseball looked into this, and for once, Bud Selig made the right call. He decided that the game would stand as it is, and go down as a one-hitter.
Frankly, if he would have rescinded Joyce's call, it would have cast a pall on the integrity of baseball's umpires. It would have also opened a Pandora's Box of problems, being that any call, play or incident in a baseball game could be open to question.
In a game that is full of judgment calls that are about 98 percent correct, you really can't have that.
Baseball will look into the extended use of instant replay, though, which I think is an idea whose time has come.
I have one question which I don't think has been brought up by anybody about this unfortunate incident.
Why didn't the crew chief reverse the call himself?
I don't know who the crew chief was, but it was not Joyce. In other sports--most noticeably in pro basketball--the other referees defer to the crew chief. I have seen many basketball games where the crew chief over-rules the other official, and you don't hear a peep about it.
However, in baseball, you rarely ever see that happen.
I think it is some unwritten rule in baseball that one umpire does not upstage the other, and that is why you rarely see this happen.
Well, it should have happened during this game, because it stole a once-in-a-lifetime moment from a young pitcher, and it made a veteran umpire look like a Little League once-a-weeker.
What a shame!
Posted by Larry at 3:53 AM