A Quick Look at Armando Galarraga

Last night, as I am sure you all know by now, Armando Galarraga sort-of threw a perfect game.  Now “sort-of” does not make a lot of sense when we are talking about perfect games.  They are like pregnancies; you either are or you are not.  If you have seen the lowlights, though, you know why I use sort-of.  Let me run down a series of thoughts on this game to put it in a bit of context:

1. This is not the worst call ever. A single call that did not change the outcome of a lowly regular season game in early June, by definition, cannot be the worst call ever. Don Denkinger is still on the hook.

2. This situation is probably not as unusual as we think. The call will be famous because it occurred on out 27. A perfect game could as easily be lost by a blown call on out 1, out 15, or any in between. In fact, a blown call prior to out 15 or so is almost certain to be quickly forgotten. Galarraga is not the first pitcher to catch a bad break, and he will not be the last.

3. Galarraga deserves as much credit for his handling of both out 27s as he does for the rest of the game. Instead of throwing a temper tantrum when the call went against him, he instead smiled briefly then calmly retired the next hitter. As a parent, that is the model of sportsmanship and professionalism that I will highlight to my children for years to come.

4. Bud Selig will not intervene. As precedent, consider two bits of history. In 2008, CC Sabathia lost a no-hitter on a questionable hit in the 7th inning. The hit could easily have been an error on Sabathia. Instead, the Brewers lost the appeal and Sabathia threw a one-hitter. In 1917, Ernie Shore came in to relieve Babe Ruth after Ruth walked the leadoff hitter and was ejected. The leadoff hitter was thrown out stealing second, and Shore retired the next 26 batters in order. Until 1991, Shore was credited with a “perfect game in relief.” Now he simply is part of a joint no-hitter with Ruth. Neither of these situations are precisely analogous to Galarraga, but they show baseball’s attention to the perverse vagaries of the game.

5. Galarraga would have fit well into the list of perfect game pitchers. The perfect game is by its nature a fluky accomplishment, as it is based on the outcome of a single game. Galarraga is not nearly the pitcher Roy Halladay is, but he fits quite well with other perfect gamers like Don Larsen, Charlie Robertson, Dallas Braden, Len Barker, Mike Witt, and Tom Browning. All of them had one great game, unlike other perfect game Hall of Famers like Cy Young, Addie Joss, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, and future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

What are your thoughts? What if anything should the commissioner do in response to the missed call? Should this be the leading edge for increased instant replay? What does anyone else think?

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2 Comments on “A Quick Look at Armando Galarraga”

  1. […] 06/03/2010 at 9:03 am and is filed under Baseball. You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post’s […]

  2. Hi, very informative and well-reasoned post, as usual. I have to say, though, that because of the unique circumstances of this particular event, I think Selig should overturn the umps call. I don’t buy the argument that he would be setting a dangerous precedent here because how often does a Perfect Game get ruined by an umpire on the very last play of a game?
    Selig should simply say that A) This event is so unique that overturning the umps call is justified, and will not set a precedent and B) This event will NOT lead to the use of instant replay during regular season games simply because there are too many games, and the games are already too long, to allow for this to happen.
    Finally, overturning the call will also remove a stigma that will follow this umpire for the rest of his life. He’s too good an ump to become permanently infamous based on one play until the day he dies.
    Thanks for another fine post, Bill

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