I guess they thought we couldn’t wait.
Next month, we will celebrate 10 years since the ‘almost perfect’ game.
So, why are we talking about it now? Well, FSD has done their best to keep us watching, even without the game. All we have seen over the last couple months are big game replays.
The Detroit Tiger Baseball Classics.
And it’s been fun. Or as fun as it can be.
We have all seen them. The 1968 World Series Game 7. The 1984 World Series Game 5. Mark Fidrych’s victory over the Yanks in 1976 on Monday Night Baseball. Jack Morris’ no-hitter over the White Sox in 1984. Even Matthew Boyd’s 1-hitter from 2017.
And just this past week, Armando Galarraga’s ‘imperfect game’ found its way onto the airwaves.
Ok! If you are going to shove it back in front of us, let’s talk about it. Because the call that stole a perfect game was not as cut and dried as it may have seemed.
We all remember the scenario. On June 10, 2010, Galarraga retired the first 26 Cleveland Indians he faced. The 27th hitter, Jason Donald, hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield, to Miguel Cabrera’s right. Miggy grabbed it and threw to a covering Galarraga at first base.
Donald was clearly out. Or was he? Jim Joyce, the umpire behind first base, said no. Donald was safe.
The perfect game was gone. The no-hitter was gone. But as we all know, what we had witnessed was the game’s first 28-out perfect game.
We all knew it. So what was Jim Joyce thinking? Well, have you ever heard the theory?
When it comes to the senses, umpires behind the bases and specifically first base, generally use more than just their eyes to make a call.
Close plays demand more than just your eyes. They demand your ears, too. While umps watch the play, they are also listening.
They listen for the thrown ball hitting the glove and they listen for the runner’s foot hitting the bag. And together, they ought to be able to make the correct call most of the time.
OK, well, so what? Are you saying Joyce couldn’t hear the ball hit the glove before Donald hit the bag?
Well, probably not. You see, when Armando fielded the throw from Miggy, he didn’t catch the ball clean. There was no pop into the back of the glove. Galarraga caught the ball at the end of the webbing, the proverbial ‘snow cone’, before the ball rolled into the pocket.
Is it a stretch? Maybe, but certainly something to consider when wondering why Joyce missed the call. He said he was sure that Donald beat it.
The catch, no doubt, made little or no sound. As a result, it could have been that Joyce heard only Donald’s foot hit the bag and immediately called him safe.
So here we are almost 10 years later, talking about it all over again. It was by far the highlight of Galarraga’s career. And at the same time, one of the most controversial outcomes of any game you can remember.
But what if we had instant replay in 2010? Well, of course, we wouldn’t be talking about a controversy right now.
We would be talking about a perfect game.
We would be talking about how Armando was like a surgeon carving up the Indians lineup. We would be talking more about the incredible catch that Austin Jackson made in centerfield to keep the perfect game alive in the ninth inning.
We would be talking about a perfect game. Or would we?
You see, even with instant replay, calls in baseball have still been screwed up. Even with the greatest of all tools, the game is still struggling with getting calls right.
So let’s take a look at the play again. If that game was played today, with instant replay, could the call still have been screwed up? Could Donald still have been called safe?
My first answer is no. My second answer is yes, because so many seemingly obvious calls have been screwed up both before and after reviewing instant replay.
So look at the play and contemplate what is considered when a close play at first base is further reviewed. Can’t you hear the play-by-play guy saying something like this: ‘Remember, it’s not when the ball reaches the glove, but when the ball hits the back of the glove’ that’s important.
Now take that requirement and look at the play again.
There is probably a second from when Galarraga caught the ball at the end of his glove to when it reached the pocket.
Imagine how many times we would have seen the replay. And how many angles. Imagine if the play was too close to call.
Would the league office and the umps have the guts to call Donald safe?
We will never know. Thank God.
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