It surprises me that I am feeling rather uncertain about the whole Major League Baseball perfect game* issue this week. If you missed it, and it was so weird that it made ABC News’ primary broadcast: a Detroit Tigers pitcher named Armando Galarraga got the first 26 batters out, without giving up a walk or a hit batsman. No one got on via an error or a third strike passed ball. One more out, and he would achieve something only 20 other pitchers had achieved: a perfect game, though, oddly, two of them were in May 2010. The umpire, Jim Joyce, called the runner safe, though almost everyone else thought, and ultimately the instant replay shows the runner to be out.
So there’s a whole debate about whether the ruling should be reversed by the baseball commissioner and award Galarraga a perfect game. And I just don’t know. I’ve read what the local sports guy and Keith Olbermann, formerly of ESPN, and Jaquandor, who thinks we should just turn off the lights on baseball, have to say. Yet I still have ambivalence.
The fact that both the player and the umpire, who have engendered a lot of genuine good will, even by the Tigers fans towards the repentant ump, is a real feel-good story. For you don’t have to follow baseball to want people to receive what they worked for, for things to be “fair”, and for obvious wrongs to be righted. It’s difficult to achieve that in our politics, so we crave it all the more in our sports.
1. Should the umpire’s ruling be overturned? Dodgers’ radio announcer Ken Levine says YES.
2. Baseball has introduced instant reply to determine whether a home run shot is fair or foul. Should there be more instant replay, which would slow down a sport than already takes longer per 9 innings than it used to? If they do, I don’t think it can be on balls and strikes. Perhaps each team gets one challenge per game. It could be for fair/foul ball hit down the lines, or a play at a base.
3. Why the heck did we almost have three perfect games in less than 30 days? Two of these guys, including Dallas Braden of the Oakland A’s and Galarraga, I had never heard of. Only Roy Halladay is an experienced front-line pitcher. Is it just luck? Is pitching and defense getting THAT much better?
4. Is this the worst blown call ever? Don Denkinger, an umpire who infamous blew a call, also at first base, in the 1985 World Series.
5. On a different matter, is there any doubt that Ken Griffey, Jr., who retired this week with 630 home runs, fifth on the list behind only Bonds, Aaron, Ruth and Mays, and without hint of scandal, such as steroid use, will be picked for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility?
John Wooden, the UCLA men’s basketball coach, who guided the Bruins to an unprecedented 10 national championships in 27 years during the 1960s and ’70s, has died. He was 99.
But he may best be remembered for teaching his player how to tie their shoes, every year, initially confounding his players, but eventually they got it.