Baseball Notebook

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Perfect Pitcher, Imperfect Umpire

Bud Selig needs to ponder over whether Armando Galarraga should be given his perfect game which was taken from him by umpire Jim Joyce when he made a horrific call that ruled Jason Donald was safe at first base even though he was clearly out.

Yesterday was a day that had a little of everything but the one thing most fans will remember will be umpire Jim Joyce making a safe call on a play which should have been the last play of a perfect game for Armando Galarraga.

Instead of a perfect game it will go down as a one hit shutout as the Tigers won the game 3-0. Joyce admitted after the game that he blew the call but that won’t give him his perfect game back unless Bud Selig uncharacteristically becomes involved and rules that Galarraga should receive credit for his perfect game if Selig has the power to make that decision.

Selig who has been on the down-low this season does not like to be pressured into making decisions so it will be interesting to see if he even comments on the situation. He was in hiding for five days after Alex Rodriguez was found to have used steroids before making a statement.

I can understand not using instant replay for an entire game but it may be time to use it in the last two or three innings of games. Even the umpire Joyce probably wishes there was instant replay being used last night since the right call would have been made.

Instead Galarraga who was ready to celebrate was shocked to see Joyce call McDonald safe. Joyce may have been the only one in the ballpark who thought McDonald was safe. Galarraga to his credit maintained his composure after the bad call. Some pitchers like Carlos Zambrano may have made an ugly scene in the same situation but it was amazing how Galarraga remained calm and went back to the mound and recorded the last out.

In the same night we witnessed perfection for 26 batters we saw imperfection from Joyce robbing Galarraga of a special moment which almost certainly will never happen again in his major league career.

Galarraga was fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2008 after compiling a 13-7 record but experienced the sophomore jinx in 2009 when his record fell to 6-10.

This year he didn’t even make the opening day roster and was sent to Toledo where he was 4-2 this season after seven starts before returning to the Tigers. He was making his fourth start of the season for the Tigers after being recalled.

Austin Jackson made one of the best catches I have ever seen when Mark Grudzielank hit a long fly ball that was chased down by Jackson. When the ball was first hit it looked like it would land between Jackson and left fielder Don Kelly but Jackson made a catch similar to the catch Willie Mays made in the 1954 World Series. I can’t recall an outfielder running as far as Jackson to get to a ball.

We can only wait now to see if Bud Selig will make the decision to give back the perfect game to Galarraga after Joyce took it away from him. I do give credit to Joyce for admitting he blew the call but that doesn’t give Galarraga his perfect game back. Knowing how reluctant Selig is to act decisively he may just add this to his list of things to hand off to the new commissioner in 2012. He has put off  for years a ruling on whether Pete Rose should be reinstated and become eligible for Hall of Fame consideration so there is no reason to expect him to act expeditiously now.

Ken Griffey Jr. Retires

It wasn’t the best day for Ken Griffey Jr. to announce his retirement but it was still time for him to walk away from the game he played professionally since 1987 when he played for Bellingham of the Northwest Leaugue in 1987.

Griffey at age 40 is in position to be the first No.1 draft pick since the inception of the amateur draft in 1965 to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in about six years.  He is the last player among the 1987 first round picks to retire from baseball.

Only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays have hit more lifetime home runs than the 630 Griffey hit during his career. He has never been mentioned as a steroids user making his numbers even more significant.

I salute Griffey for retiring even though he may have been kept on the roster even though he was having a non-Griffey type of year. His retirement showed me that he cares too much about the Seattle Mariners to remain on the roster while preventing a better player from helping the team.

His .184 batting average and two extra base hits in 108 plate appearances with no home runs and seven runs batted in show he made the right decision. I have more respect for Griffey than ever for making this unselfish move to walk away from the game when it was evident he doesn’t have the skills he once had in his 22 year career.

If ever there was a player that is a lock for the Hall of Fame it is Ken Griffey Jr. He will fall 219 hits short of 3,000 hits but his other numbers are so overwhelmingly great that he will still go in the first time he is eligible.

He is 14th alltime in runs batted in with 1,836. He made the All Star team 13 times and was third in the AL All Star DH voting at the time of his retirement. He won a Gold Glove for ten consecutive years from 1990-1999. He won the 1997 AL MVP award. In addition he hit 40 or more home runs seven times and drove in 100 or more runs eight times.

Baseball-reference.com compares his stats to those of Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Dave Winfield and Mickey Mantle.

Griffey missed a lot of games later in his career which prevented him putting up even better numbers. He played in 130 or less games 11 times during his career and played in 100 or less games in five of those years.

We laud Griffey for playing the game the right way and for knowing it was time to leave the game he loves behind being a better game because he epitomizes what is good about baseball.





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6 thoughts on “Perfect Pitcher, Imperfect Umpire

  1. thedark2 on said:

    Humans make mistakes. Unfortunate for the kid, but both he and the umpire showed class after the fact. Asking Bud to have class is simply asking too much. Speaking of class, Jr. would have liked to leave under better circumstances, but should be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

  2. I think Jim Joyce knew he made a mistake after the way the crowd reacted to his call. Was amazed by the catch of Austin Jackson. Usually a ball like that is going to go to the wall without being caught. Most outfielders would never have come close to catching that ball.

    I agree Bud Selig is not a class act and he is probably too busy counting his $18 million salary to even care about doing anything about the perfect game.

    Ken Griffey Jr. won my respect by leaving now and not taking up a roster spot preventing another player from getting playing time with the Mariners.

  3. Ron Sayles on said:

    To err is human, to forgive divine.

  4. I think Armando Galarraga is my new favorite player. I hope he has a great year after starting the season in the minors. He went the extra mile to be gracious toward Jim Joyce. Most pitchers would be ranting and raving right now but not Galarraga. I was tickled to see that Chevrolet gave him a Corvette before the game yesterday.

  5. Volunteer Pitching Coach Baker on said:

    You know what’s so great about this game? It’s humanizing. It’s about the frailty of being a human being with all its plus and minuses. And there is no greater endeavor on the face of this planet than baseball.

    We all strive to be something that we would otherwise not – in baseball. We point to heros and villains, good guys and bad guys – in baseball. By a noble act – the sacrifice, we give up our best for the best of someone else.

    People play this game, not machines, not calculators or tickertape. We do or don’t.

    Bringing some sort of order to this contest is the most vilified official in all sports – the baseball umpire. He/she must be right 100% of time, from his/her first day on the job to the last. And although many may see his/her craftsmanship, from all sorts of angles near and far, it’s the umpire’s judgement that prevails. That judgement that is so in step with those around him/her, that judgement that is as human as the nine, on and off the field.

    I honestly think that if technology were to creep into this realm of the most humanized sport in all creation, it would lessen the very nature, tempo and complexion of this game. Sure, there are mistakes, even down right ..”oops”, but so are we prone to a few “oops” along the way.

    The point that I’m making here is that we have the respect and admiration for this game because it is so human- prone to all the things that humans do. Record books are great and so are bragging rights, championship rings and whatnot. But I want a human to be the judge of that, right or wrong, plain and simple.

    Volunteer Pitching Coach John A. Baker
    Springfield, Massachusetts

    • Thank you John for your comment. You make a very logical argument for baseball to stay the way it is without increased instant replays. I am on the side of more instant replays but your argument is so strong I am not so sure now.

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