Once again, the stiffs at Major League Baseball headquarters are offending fans, maltreating players and generally undermining enthusiasm for America's pastime. The latest scandal occurred Wednesday night when a blown call at first base cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga what he earned and deserves: the honor of being recognized as one of the few pitchers ever to toss a perfect game in the big leagues. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has the power to reverse the call and make the world right again, but he has refused. If for no other reason, the commissioner should correct himself for love of the game.
Mr. Selig can change the ruling on the field and honor Mr. Galarraga's achievement because it would be "in the best interests of baseball," an all-encompassing and intangible factor that gives the commissioner the authority to do just about anything to protect the game. In this case, the game is damaged by his inaction. The circumstances of Wednesday's Tigers-Indians game make it a very easy call for Mr. Selig to do the honorable thing. The outcome of the game would not change because after the blown call, the Tigers got the following batter out to end the game. Only two batsmen would have to be altered on the scorecard, which would be done to make the record reflect what actually objectively occurred on the field. Case closed; open the record book and put Armando's name in it.
There is no controversy about what happened and how this matchup should be recorded. After the game, Jim Joyce, the tearful and contrite umpire, visited the Tigers locker room to apologize to the pitcher, showing much class by admitting "I just cost that kid a perfect game." This isn't a case of "close but no cigar" because the pitcher did his job. In fact, not only did he get 27 Cleveland batters out in a row, but he got one extra out after being forced to throw to a superfluous player after the blown call. In reality, Mr. Galarraga had more than a perfect game because he and his teammates got 28 outs in a game that requires 27.
This is a big deal. A perfect game is scored when the man on the mound gets out every single batter he faces at the plate over a complete game. This feat is more impressive and rarer than a standard no-hitter because the pitcher is not allowed a single walk. It has to be 27 up, 27 down. Perfect games don't happen very often because they are extraordinarily difficult given the talent of professional batters. There only have been 20 perfect games in the history of the league, which dates back to 1869. This would be the first for Detroit, one of the oldest clubs in the sport.
Perhaps the most ridiculous idea in this whole sordid affair is that Mr. Selig has any inkling what's in the best interests of baseball. This is the guy who allowed the 2002 All-Star Game to end in an unsatisfying tie after 11 exciting innings. He's also a man who has no right appealing to the integrity of the records as recorded, given all the juiced up stats from the steroids era, which festered on his watch. The commissioner himself admitted, "There is no dispute that last night's game should have ended differently." Mr. Selig is the only man who can give the 28-year-old Tigers right-hander his place in the history books. The only dispute is whether he's man enough to do what's right.
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