I think I've cooled off now. You have to, to write about something like this.
Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game Wednesday night. He didn't, as the media is almost required to report by the facts on the ground, lose a perfect game based on a blown call. He faced 27 batters -- 28, actually -- and got them all out. There was no error, no walk and no hit. It was a perfect game.
Only, in a way, it wasn't. The mistake wasn't made by Galarraga, or by one of his fielders -- but by an umpire. On what would have been the 27th and final out of the game.
For those unfamiliar with the story -- and, really, how do you breathe living on Mars? -- Galarraga got Jason Donald to ground the ball to Miguel Cabrera. Donald did what he should have done -- raced toward first base. Cabrera did what he should have done -- fielded the ball cleanly. And Galarraga did what he should have done -- run to first base to cover for Cabrera, catching the throw and making the final out.
Making it, but not recording it. Because the last, crucial link in the chain didn't do what he should have done. Jim Joyce, twice ranked by baseball players as one of the best umpires in the game, got the call wrong. On what should have clearly been an out -- photo evidence here -- Joyce called Donald safe.
The criticism directed at Joyce -- much of it among the most vile you'll find on the Internet, which is saying something -- has gone way too far. Almost every knowledgeable baseball person who's talked about the call over the last few hours has started out with, "Jim Joyce is a great umpire, but ... " He got a call wrong, and I'd wager every umpire gets that call (safe or out at first?) wrong at least once a season. Unfortunately for Joyce, his one time came at the worst possible time -- standing on the brink of history. No one wants to get that wrong, no one will get it wrong if they can get it right. No one wants their legacy to begin: "A good umpire, but he ruined a perfect game on a bad call ... "
And Joyce did what too few umpires do after they make a bad call: He not only apologized, he practically mourned.
"I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay. It was the biggest call of my career."
There was, of course, nothing that could be done once Joyce made the call. There is no instant replay for those calls in baseball, there wasn't an umpire with a better view of the play than Joyce and the show had to go on. As if to make his point clear, Galarraga got Trevor Crowe to ground out. 28 up, 28 (actually) down -- which might be the first time that's ever been done in major league history.
That there should be instant replay available in cases like this should be pretty clear now. Even a former skeptic like myself can't possibly look at a ruined perfect game, botched by one of the game's better umpires, and see anything but a clear case for more replay.
The problem is what to do about Galarraga's perfect game. Pitchers don't generally get a second chance; as a rule, you have one perfect game in this life if you have that. (Only 20 have ever been thrown in the history of MLB, though three have come in less than a year.) And he should get this one.
I know the arguments against it. It would literally be unprecedented. It would open a Pandora's Box of lost playoff games and questionable World Series victories and a list of almosts that could fill books (and sometimes do). Baseball has never been football, has never been enamored of technology, has always taken on faith that the umpire sometimes gets it wrong and that it usually evens out in the end.
But it won't even out for Galarraga. And what happened next -- the 28th batter retired -- makes the doomsday scenarios painted by opponents almost moot. He didn't give up a second hit, didn't walk the next guy, didn't do anything that would call into question simply acknowledging what everyone -- those of us who watched game, those who saw a replay, and Jim Joyce himself -- knows. The call was wrong. It is an objective, empirical fact that Galarraga got the 27th out. What is wrong with saying that it happened?
Which brings us to the only man who can change any of this: Bud Selig. You wouldn't know it from the strength of the players' union in all other matters, but Selig's power is practically limitless when it comes to what happens on the field. You also wouldn't know it from the way Selig often acts, which is the issue here.
Selig has the ability to overturn the call. He has the authority to do almost anything he deems to be "in the best interests of the game." It is, whether he believes it or not, the purpose for the office of the commissioner's existence. And to a sport that holds its record books as hallowed, that studiously records and reverently recalls it history more carefully than any other, getting it right is not just "in the best interests of the game." It is the very integrity of the sport itself.
But more importantly, it's simply the right thing to do. And it's the fair thing to do. "Baseball isn't always fair," some say -- and they're right. But that is no reason to refuse to make it fair when you can. And Selig can.
And there was nothing fair about what happened Wednesday night. It wasn't fair to Galarraga, and it wasn't fair to Jim Joyce. Because if nothing is done to correct the mistake, Joyce will always be remembered as the guy who took away Galarraga's perfect game. He will likely often remember himself as the guy who "just cost that kid a perfect game." And for an umpire who is so well respected, that is a travesty.
Galarraga has shown promise in the past and might very well go on to have a good career, maybe making history in some other way. He might not have a chance to pitch another perfect game, but he still has plenty of opportunities to prove that his name deserves to be in the game's record books.
Jim Joyce doesn't get that chance. If umpires are remembered, they are remembered for one or two calls. (Except Angel Hernandez, but that's another story.) If nothing is done, this will be that call.
So one man loses his best game, and another loses his reputation. And the solution is simply to say what everyone knows: It was a perfect game.
Sure, you could refuse. But why would you?
A note: I've started using a hashtag on Twitter that says it all -- #seligmakeitright. If you retweet this post or tweet anything about this game at all, I'd ask that you use it. Hashtags don't give credit to anyone -- while I retweeted some of those that came through my feed, I'm not going to do one of those somewhat self-serving "retweet this if you think Selig should overturn the call." Send a message through the hashtag. That's my only request.