Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game last night against the Cleveland Indians. You know it, I know it, and the entire sports world knows it. Unfortunately for him, the baseball record books will never know it.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians hit a ground ball to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera cleanly fielded the ball and tossed it to Galarraga who was covering first base. Donald was clearly out. Umpire Jim Joyce however, called Donald safe and ruined Galarraga’s chance at joining an elite club in baseball history. After the game, Joyce saw the replay and realized the mistake that he made. He sought out Galarraga and Tigers manager Jim Leyland to apologize. They both accepted his apology.
"He really feel bad. He probably feel more bad than me," Galarraga told Fox Sports Detroit. "Nobody's perfect, everybody's human. I understand. I give a lot of credit to the guy saying, 'Hey, I need to talk to you because I really say I'm sorry.' That don't happen. You don't see an umpire after the game say 'I'm sorry.'"
Now, people are shouting from the mountaintops more than ever about the need for instant replay in baseball. I’ve seen where fans are calling for Commissioner Bud Selig to overturn the call last night and allow Galarraga to have his perfect game. I’ve even seen “fire Jim Joyce” pages on Facebook.
It’s all getting to be ridiculous. Joyce made a mistake and honed up to it afterwards. There is no reason to fire the guy. He has been an umpire for 22 years and is widely regarded amongst the players as the best umpire in the game. Sadly, he blew a call that cost Galarraga a perfect game.
Baseball does not need to have instant replay either. The human element that baseball has is what sets it apart from the other sports. Some people say that is exactly what is wrong with baseball. I say that is exactly what’s right with the game. To quote Terence Mann in Field of Dreams, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.
Baseball does not need to be changed. It is far from perfect, but that is what makes it special.