Friday, June 04, 2010
Ever since we're little we're told that baseball is our national pastime. As American as apple pie. So it's no great surprise that in upholding the integrity of this great institution Commissioner Bud Selig refused to reverse what is now known as "the worst call in baseball history," umpire Jim Joyce's unintentional robbery of Detroit Tiger Armondo Galarraga's perfect game Wednesday night, which would've been just the 21st such pitching phenomenon in the sport's 100+ year history. Videotape replay shows that Joyce's controversial "safe" call at first base was incorrect. Cleveland Indians runner Jason Donald was clearly out. Galarraga was about to celebrate his extraordinarily rare feat when he saw the ump's call, and just stood shell-shocked with a frustrated what the fuck smile. Since that moment, the guy has shown nothing but grace and class in accepting his historic fate. If I were Galarraga, the top of my skull would've shot off. We're talking a perfect game here, folks.
So why should Selig have overturned the call? Because it'd have been the right thing to do. Period. For Pete's sake, we let death row inmates out of prison when DNA or some other conclusive evidence proves their innocence. But we cannot overturn an umpire's call? Are baseball records, and the overall sanctity of the game, any more or less deserving of scrutiny and appeal than our criminal justice system? Isn't the point here to simply right a wrong? It's done in football and basketball, and other sports, all the time. Is our national pastime above reproach? Held to a higher standard? Everything in life should have exceptions to the rules. No one or no situation is perfect. But this game was, and this young pitcher deserves to not be a record-books asterisk for accomplishing something so incredible that only 20 before him in 100+ years have done so. Joyce was wrong. He admitted it. And despite what Tom Hanks shrieked in "A League of Their Own," there is crying in baseball, as a teary, post-game Joyce demonstrated. Selig should have shown the same humility and compassion.