Ever since I was a wee nerd picking nerdberries on my gammie’s farm, I’ve thought about hypothetical situations similar to what happened in last night’s Tigers game. This, of course, because, as a nerd, I wasn’t thinking about girls or cars or whatever. But I would think, "Okay, two outs, bottom of the ninth, runners on second and third in Game Seven of the World Series with the home team down by one. Line drive to center, the outfielder dives and catches it, but the umpire flubs the call and rules a ‘no-catch’. Two runs score, World Series over, the wrong team wins. What would happen?"
It was a ridiculous, yet realistic, scenario. Would the team that got jobbed pretend like they were the real winners, holding parades and printing up "World Champions" memorabilia? Would MLB officially award the championship to the losing team? Would MLB just say, "Whoops, but them’s the breaks, and the call stands?"
It’s two decades later, and I’ve a) driven a car, b) kissed a girl, and now c) have a pretty good idea what Major League Baseball would say in a situation like that: Whoops, but them’s the breaks, and the call stands. The thing is, it happened.
I can appreciate the argument. Every baseball game is made up of hundreds of judgment calls. Most are right, some are wrong. It would be impossible to go back and correct every single one, so the league takes a hard stance. If there can’t be perfection, the imperfections of human umpires will have to be a part of the game, no exceptions.
What I can’t figure out, though, is how reversing the call in this particular situation – the last out of a perfect game – would set any sort of precedent. It doesn’t apply to my hypothetical situation – the outcome of the game wasn’t in question. It doesn’t apply to any controversial call in the middle of a one-hitter.
So what is the argument against Bud Selig reversing the call and granting Galarraga the perfect game? This is an honest question. I really want to know the argument. Here are the only two I can think of:
"Umpires are part of the charm of the game! Each one is flawed like a corpulent, mustachioed diamond, which is part of what makes the game great!" –This isn’t good enough for me. Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game. That’s the sort of thing that makes the game great. Eric Gregg’s strike zone, Bob Davidson’s balk fetish, and Tim Tschida’s general asshattery are something we live with, not celebrate.
Maybe the umpire’s union wouldn’t want MLB retroactively undermining their work – I can understand this one, but I think they’d be thrilled to let Jim Joyce become "the man who prevented an on-field celebration" rather than "the man whose incompetence ruined one of the rarest feats in sports." Reverse this one, and then make this kind of last-out situation reviewable as if it were a home run.
What am I missing? I just don’t see a downside to reversing the call, but I’m willing to admit that there’s a good reason I just haven’t thought of.
Also of note: seven years after the Big Cat left, and I still hate trying to spell "Galarraga."