Why baseball is like life: reason 392,018

Chances are that you’ve already seen what should have been the final out of last night’s matchup between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians. It was a perfect game, though it could be argued that Miguel Cabrrera should have stayed home and let Carlos Guillen make the play. In that scenario, the umpire only has to watch for one thing: the catch. Joyce had to call both the catch and Galaragga’s foot. Joyce missed the call. Those are the vagaries of baseball.

But did you see Austin Jackson’s catch earlier in the inning? I think i’m most disappointed that the highlight reels aren’t focusing on that. On the run, a step into the warning track, in the deepest corner of one of the biggest parks in baseball: one of the best catches you’ll ever see on what would have been a home run in any other park. And it preserved Galaragga’s perfect game.

As a life long Tigers fan, i’m sorely disappointed. I’m also incredibly proud.

First, Armando Galaragga is not the staff ace. Two years ago he had a fine season; last year he struggled. He just got called up from AAA after not making the trip north with the Tigers. And last night he was there throwing a perfect game without dominating the Tribe. Check out Brandon Inge (3B) fielding a grounder up the middle that bounces off Galaragga’s foot. A perfect game is both an individual and collective accomplishment. He may not end up in the record books, but Armando knows what he did and what it took to do it.

Then there’s Jim Joyce (the ump) after the game admitting his mistake and asking to speak with Galaragga. You’d think that Galaragga would be spitting mad, but he spoke with Joyce and accepted the apology. Galaragga seems unfazed by the whole thing. He’s defended Joyce. Joyce was given the chance to opt out of umping today’s game behind the plate. He declined. He knew he’d be rightfully booed, but he responded to doing something wrong by doing the right thing.

So after a night and day of controversy, Armando Galaragga delivered today’s lineup card to Jim Joyce at home plate. Just like in real life, shit happens. The only thing you can do is get on with it. Baseball isn’t life and death, but wouldn’t it be something if a few more people acted like Galaragga and Joyce?

*the number is what baseball-reference lists as the total number of games played 1876 – present. (Don’t know if it includes this year’s games and it may need to be divided by two.)

14 replies »

  1. I agree. I do find it a little mad that the tone from last night and today has changed so dramatically. I went to bed after watching the replay (which was shot from center field perspective) where you can clearly see the ball. The call looked close and most people agreed that the call was wrong, but at regular speed it was at least close. Then this morning everyone wants the umps head because he was safe by a mile. The problem today is that everyone is watching the replay from the first base coach perspective. This view doesn’t show when the ball is actually in the glove and it makes it appear that the runner was a yard away from the bag. Another issue I have is how people are repeatedly watching this in slow motion. It’s so easy to make the call while sitting in an office watching the slow mo replay on youtube. If you watch this in regular speed from the perspective of the first basemen and it’s not that easy of a call.

  2. Indeed, Darrell. And Joyce was watching for three things, all of which occurred in the same fraction of a second. It’s not easy to umpire a baseball game. I like the subjective objectivity of baseball umpiring…especially considering that they have a much bigger job than watching for rule breaking. The umps are part of the game. It’s fine to get mad at them at times, but nobody argues with a baseball ump expecting to actually change the decision.

    …i bet Galaragga gets a lot of benefits of the doubt from the entire MLB umpire corp for the rest of this season. Do unto others works.

  3. There’s already a facebook group calling on Bud Selig to reverse the call and give Galaragga the perfect game.

  4. Too late. MLB rules give the commissioner’s office the power to overrule a call on the field before the start of the team’s next game. Det v. Cle was a 1:05 EST start (Det 12, Cle 6).

    But i did watch Galaragga during the pregame when GM gave him a Corvette and he met a tearful Joyce with the lineup card. Galaragga said that he talked to his dad last night and his dad told him that the important people know it was a perfect game that he’s proud of his son. That seems to be enough for Armando.

  5. On a separate but baseball related note about 15k people showed up at a Buffalo Bison’s game at 1pm today to see Stephen Strasburg pitch what should be his last AAA game. I couldn’t go, but there’s nothing better then ditching work for a ball game.

  6. I’ll just say “Amen” to the calls for (what we used to call) “good-sportsmanship.” The morning-after umps are the ones setting the bad example this time–not the players.

  7. The thing nobody is talking about goes to the way umps call games and some unwritten rules that Joyce violated MASSIVELY. I’ve played baseball for years – only quit a couple years ago – and trust me, in order to be safe at first on that kind of play with any ump you have to be so safe that it’s obvious from the upper deck. Umps don’t mince words on this – “outs move the game along,” they say. If it’s bang-bang at first, you’re out, whether you’re out or not. It’s like the proximity call on the double play turn at second. If the fielder is close, it’s an out. Same at first, only worse. Every day in the bigs you probably see 25-30 runners called out at first every day who are actually safe.

    Also, everybody knows that when the pitcher has a clean sheet going, especially once you get past the third or fourth inning, the first hit MUST BE CLEAN. Everybody from the scorer to the ump to the fans – everybody knows this.

    All of which adds up to this: Joyce didn’t just fuck up. He fucked up titanically. I respect the apology, but that was the call of an ump who was full of himself at the moment. And let me tell you, most of them are at some point or another. I’m trying to think of a more inexcusable, self-indulgent fuck-up in all of baseball history by an ump. I mean, there probably has been one, but I can’t think what it was.

    Working the next game shouldn’t have been Joyce’s choice. He should have been suspended for a few days.

  8. True, Sam, true. In fact, earlier in the game Joyce had called Johnny Damon safe in a similar situation. And this was a moment where the runner should have been safe by a mile to not be called out.

    I only give Joyce credit for so quickly admitting that he did fuck up titanically…that’s not usual, umpire behavior. I disagree about the suspension – given the quick admitting of the mistake – and i maintain that he did the right thing by calling yesterday’s game.

    However, i do think that this was one of those incredibly rare times that the commissioner should have overturned the call. Selig had Joyce freely admitting the botch; and the strange rules that apply to a commissioner overturning a call on the field were moot in this case. (If the commissioner overturns a call on the field, the game gets replayed from the point of the overturned call…see, “pine tar home run”. No way could a perfect game be replayed, but this was the third out of the ninth.)

    As an aside, Galaragga would have been the first Venezuelan to throw a perfect game. That’s an important bit of baseball history that he earned and should not have been denied.

  9. Jason Turbow wrote an excellent book called “The Baseball Codes” which is about the hidden rules of the game that aren’t in the official rulebook. Passed down in baseball for well over a century, these rules are all about the game within the game. I recommend this book to any fan of baseball as it’s very entertaining and informative. Here’s the top ten rules from the book worth discussion.

  10. Sorry, Jeff, you’ve used up your allowance of purely personal venom attacks. Sober up, try again. Next time the penalty will be a bit stiffer than mere deletion.

    Yes, this is your final warning. Period.

  11. Someone on ESPN said this was not a perfect game, but it still produced a lot of perfect moments (sportsmanship/civility). I agree.

  12. “All you need is love… doodoodoodoodoo… all you need is love… everybody!”

    And I love Bob’s observation. Perfect moments are the best we get, and then only if we’re lucky. We should grab them and enjoy.