Armando Galarraga should have pitched a perfect game. Jim Joyce’s blatantly wrong call at first base erased all hope. But you can’t overturn it.
Hopefully Major League Baseball and the Detroit Tigers do something very special for Galarraga, as he pitched a brilliant game and was robbed of a chance at history.
Last night, after the Tigers game ended, I was IMing with Tejesh of Mets Prospect Hub, and was arguing over whether or not the play should be overturned or adjusted. Tejesh thought it should be switched, I did not.
Here’s the example I used, with added detail…
Let’s say Johan Santana and Roy Halladay are locked up in a pitching duel at Citi Field. It’s a one-game playoff to make it to the postseason. Santana has allowed a few hits and walks, allowing only one run. Halladay, though, is pitching a perfect game into the bottom of the 9th.
With two outs and the pitcher’s spot due up, Jerry Manuel decides to pinch-hit Gary Matthew’s Jr. (Crazy, I know.)
GMJ ends up pulling a ball way down the right field line, which lands foul, but is called fair. Jayson Werth runs over and falls down, breaking both his legs in the process. The ball skips away and settles on the warning track. Shane Victorino hustles over to the ball, but trips and breaks both his arms. Matthews rounds the bases and ties the game for the Mets.
Now, the ball clearly landed foul, but the umpire determined it was a fair ball. Because it’s not a home run clearing the wall, it’s not up for review.
The perfect game is ruined, but the Mets also managed to tie the game. If your overturn it, you take a run off the board for the Mets to keep the perfect game intact. Is that OK? No. Not at all.
(Yeah, I know, that will likely never happen, but it’s just an extreme example of why the play can’t be overturned.)
Galarraga was absolutely robbed of pitching a perfect game, but unless you institute replay for every play – be it balls and strikes, plays at first or home, etc. – you cannot overturn or call back Joyce’s call. It stinks, but them’s the breaks.