Thursday, June 3, 2010

From the Words I Never Thought I'd Say Dept...Good Call, Bud

Only one person has been personally aggrieved by the Bang-Bang Play Heard 'round the World, where Jim Joyce erroneously called a runner safe at first to cost Armando Galarraga the third perfect game this season.

That person is Armando Galarraga. And he's moving on with life, wearing a smile.

As you can see here, unlike 90 percent of today's athletes and 109 percent of the Internet crowd, he's man enough to shake Jim Joyce's hand the next day.

What that means is that the rest of you can kindly kwitcherbitchin now.


I'm the first to admit that Bud Selig has been about as good for baseball as a Tabasco sauce enema. All of his other foibles during his tenure as Commissioner (head in the sand on PED's, decreeing an All-Star tie, dragging playoff games late into the night and into November) annoy the hell out of the vast majority of baseball fans.

With today's announcement that Selig won't be overturning Joyce's call and retroactively granting Galarraga baseball's 21st perfect game (and third in the last month), one would think that Bud had doused a boxful of puppies with gasoline and flicked his Bic.

Jerry Crasnick calls it "stealing."

Milt Pappas called Bud an idiot.

Ian O'Connor augmented his own whinings on the topic with a call to another perfect-gamer, Don Larsen. Needless to say, Larsen was also annoyed.

Only Rob Neyer seems to have the proper perspective on the whole mess.

In one column, he reminds us that Galarraga could have rendered the whole thing moot by catching Miguel Cabrera's toss cleanly, instead of snow-coning it.

In another, he reminds us that changing the past in this game would not be anywhere close to the end: "interim" decision would set a terrible precedent, because this theoretical "interim" might last weeks or months or years. Does the commissioner really want to be in the position of overruling umpires every time an umpire blows a call that might have changed the result of a game? Or simply changed a player's statistics? (Because that's all that happened Wednesday night in Detroit: a player's statistics were very slightly affected.)
What does happen the next time a ninth-inning call gets blown and lets in a game-tying or game-winning run?

Do we flip standings and statistics around, taking a pair of scissors to selected spots in the record book?

If an out's called on a play that should have scored that game-tying run, do we reconvene everyone weeks later and pick it up like it was just a human-error-induced rain delay?

It's down a slippery slope that the angry hordes want to shove Bud, just so one guy gets his happy-happy moment. The moment the shoe's on the other foot and, for example, a Red Sox fan watches his team win the wild card on a missed call, they'll immediately remind everyone that the umpire's call is final and brooks no argument. Hypocrisy's easy to hide when it's disguised as altruism.

The positive out of the whole situation will hopefully be a hastening of the move toward some expansion of instant replay in baseball. Of course, this is Bud Selig we're talking about, who I suspect takes eight hours to decide if he wants cream, sugar, or even coffee in his coffee. At his usual pace, we may be able to use modern technology to remedy calls like Joyce's sometime around 2015.

A call like Jim Joyce's would have been the perfect occasion to break out a video replay, as a perfect game certainly qualifies as an extreme circumstance.

Extreme enough to warrant screwing with the past, though? No. Changing a call needs to be done immediately, not 15 hours later. Get over it and get off Bud's ass.

He'll do something else worthy of getting pissed off about soon enough.

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