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Almost Perfect

Unless you have been stuck in a construction site port-a-potty all night, you should know that Detroit Tigers starter, Armando Galarraga, had perfection yanked from his deserving grasp. Which along with Oakland’s Dallas Braden (May) and of course Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay (May), would have made history YET AGAIN, tallying the third perfecto on the year. Until Doc’s gem, there hadn’t been more than one in a given season.

With two outs in the ninth and 26 straight Indians retired, Cleveland’s Jason Donald hit a fairly average grounder about eight feet or so to first baseman Miguel Cabrera’s right. Cabby speared the grounder, turned and threw to Galarraga covering first, easily beating Donald to the bag by nearly an entire step.

Unfortunately, first base umpire Jim Joyce made the split-second decision to interrupt history, by totally blowing the call and calling Donald safe.

Despite the pleading of Cabrera, Galarraga and Tigers manager, Jim Leyland, Donald stuck to the umpire code: Never reverse your call, REGARDLESS.

Oh sure, a few brave souls have ventured into seldom charted territory, by doubling back and making things right. But it’s an uncommon practice.

Undoubtedly, baseball writers and talking heads will release the hounds on commissioner Bud Selig in the coming days (if they haven’t started doing so already), and the Commish had better listen this time, because (borrowing his own phrase); This time, it counts.

In case it helps ease the pain of losing out on history, even in the slightest bit, here are the three people shouldering the brunt of the blame for Galarraga’s agony.

(In order from most blame, to least blame.)

1.) Bud Selig

If Selig and his 14-man committee hadn’t goofed on the language of the instant replay rule to begin with, Joyce never would have been put in this unfortunate position. Because the final say wouldn’t have ever been in his hands.

Fate would have been under the watchful eye of some random baseball official, sitting upstairs in the video booth.

The need to get calls right doesn’t just start and stop with home run/ foul ball questions.

Selig, you have blood on your hands.

Still you can’t totally absolve…

2.) Jim Joyce

He made a bad call. It happens. It shouldn’t happen on a play where every single person watching live – in the stadium or on TV – immediately knew the correct call, one in which the ball and Galarraga got to the bag, just as Donald was barely reaching the dirt surrounding first base.

Seriously ridiculous.

The good thing? Joyce actually went into the Tigers den after the game to apologize to Galarraga for the gaffe. They hugged.

Well isn’t that just DANDY?

I don’t care if Joyce took Galarraga out for coffee and a scone after the game, it doesn’t change the history that was lost.

You know what would have? Reversing the call. Which was well within Joyce’s power.

Astros pitcher, Roy Oswalt, was recently tossed from a game for merely shouting at himself, while walking away from the mound after walking a guy.

After Joyce’s safe-call, Miguel Cabrera incessantly chewed his ear off from the time the bad call was made, through the entire last at-bat of the game. Normally, umps don’t put up with that kind of player-generated dialogue. Especially making a show of the questioning of a call. Normally, Cabrera would have been booted.

So why did Joyce put up with it? Simple. He knew he blew the call and he knew it RIGHT THEN.  Which makes the fact that he didn’t do an about-face, reversing the call, all the more ludicrous. He messed up, he knew he messed and he felt bad that he messed up. But he didn’t change the call. Inexcusable.

And finally…

3.) Miguel Cabrera

Wait… what???

That wasn’t Cabrera’s ball. First basemen are taught to let balls more than three steps to their right, go, retreating to the bag while letting the second baseman field it. The only exception being with a man on first, as the second baseman would be in double-play depth, shifted deep to the grass, shading second base. With no one on base, Cabrera completely over-committed.

Cabrera had to field the ball almost halfway to second. That was Carlos Guillen’s ball, who was playing second. In the replay you can see that Guillen had an easy route to the ball. Whether he’s a career second baseman or not – and he isn’t – he still should have immediately called Cabrera off.

Still, regardless of who is to blame, or in what order, in the end Galarraga is the one getting hosed. There’s no going back…

Or is there?

Though it is HIGHLY unlikely, Bud Selig needs to grab the reigns of his league and make two bold decisions; by Thursday morning.

First, he needs to over-night, change the replay rules. He can decide how many replays can be used in a game, as really any number will do. He can designate a booth official to decide when to use it. He can allow the on-the-field umps to have the power to ask for help on a given call. He can give each manager a Hanky, with one challenge to use per game.

WHATEVER. Just change the rule, now.

Second – and Selig needs to walk uphill on a slippery slope on this – he needs to rescind the call, giving Galarraga his well deserved perfect game. Rescinding a call, changing the outcome of a game, is something that has been done before, so it wouldn’t be quite as crazy as you think.

Remember the infamous George Brett pine-tar indecent in 1983?

Brett hit the go-ahead, two-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth, against the Yankees in New York and had it waved-off on the field, because the home plate ump ruled that Brett had too much pine-tar on his bat. Brett was called out, game over. Right?

WRONG.

MLB overruled the on-the-field call, giving Brett his homer back and forcing the Yanks and Royals to finish the ninth inning three weeks later.

Selig needs to wave his magic wand on this one, taking away Donald’s hit and giving Galarraga his rightful slice of history. Just changing the replay rule would be a great start, but not near enough. Selig owes it to everyone involved to make things right.

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