Tigers Baseball Outsider

a thinking fan's perspective

Thursday, June 3, 2010

That’s How The Ball Bounces

Galarraga responds to Joyce's blown call.
Photo Credit - AP

We all know what happened with Armando Galarraga 's 28 out perfect game.

We all know Armando showed more poise and class in those immediate moments after the blown call than most of us will exhibit in a lifetime.

We all know that Jim Joyce is incredibly sorry for his admitted mistake.

It stunk, it was incredibly sad, and even though the Tigers won the game, no one really won last night.

But what now?

Bud Selig, Major League Baseball's Commissioner, has declined to overthrow the call and give Galarraga his perfect game. And you know – I agree.

I do not want the commissioner to overthrow a judgment call in a game.

Perfect game or not.

A lot of people are calling for instant replay in baseball to be extended past the review of a homeruns - to see if it did fly out of the park inside the foul pole or hit the fence high enough to be a home run based on the rules of that park.

Instant replays on close bang-bang plays at first?

Instant replays on close throws by the catcher to second to get the get the runner stealing second?

Instant replays to see if an outfielder - diving for a ball – trapped it or caught it?

How would that work?

The problem is that you do not want every close play at first to be subject to instant replay. So the first thought is to do something like the NFL. A manager would through a flag or give a signal to state they want the play reviewed. They would only get one or two opportunities to do so in a game, and there would be a penalty if the review showed the umpires call to be correct.

A penalty? What kind of penalty. An out? An out taken away if you're in the field? An out added if you're at bat?

That's not baseball.

That's not fair to your pitcher struggling to get out of an inning.

You have to earn an out.

If instant replay were to work – it would have to be one of the umpires on the crew who realizes they better see that play over again, In slow motion.

Joyce himself went into the clubhouse and reviewed the play at his first opportunity.

The mindset has to be that the call being right is more important the umpire being right.

And it should never be used for balls and strikes.

But that's not really baseball.

The other option is that some sort of technology is employed like in professional tennis.

Yeah, I said tennis.

John McEnroe inspired a device that sounds an audible beep when a serve is out. And a visual replay that shows where a ball landed on the court.

But that's not really baseball either.

Here is the reality of what will result from last night's blown call.

Armando's perfect game in 28 outs will live in infamy. It will be recalled and debated for decades to come.

Every time the statistic of twenty perfect games since 1901 is discussed, or the two perfect games thrown in a two week span in 2010 is mentioned – it will always be followed up with the fact that there was this one amazing incident that that should be added to that count.

And every time a person smiles and accepts a poorly deserved fate with poise and class and forgiveness – Armando will be remembered.


The legacy and legend of baseball was enriched by this horribly blown call last night.

That's baseball.

Baseball is 162 games in a season.

Baseball is ball parks of inconsistent dimensions . Shadows in the evenings and winds that blow in or out to help or deter balls leaving the park.

Baseball is the second or shortstop in the vicinity of second base when turning the double play.

Honest ball players and cheaters.

And umpires that are blind as a bat.

Every game is different.

Every game is unique.

And every game is special.

That's baseball.

The English have for hundreds of years described things that are not proper as not being "cricket".

In North America we have a different slant on life:

"That's how the ball bounces".

That's baseball.

It has been for the last one hundred and fifty years.

It doesn't need instant replay. It doesn't need buzzers or beeps or animated figures detailing the event that unfolded in slow motion.

It's baseball.

And baseball needs umpires like Jim Joyce – honest human beings of integrity that feel horrible when they get it wrong.

That's baseball.

And that's just how the ball bounces.

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