June 3, 2010
BASEBALL: Past Imperfect
A few thoughts on last night's fiasco in Detroit, in which - if you missed it - Armando Galarraga missed a perfect game against the Indians when umpire Jim Joyce completely blew a call at first base (it wasn't even close) on what would have been the 27th out; Galarraga then calmly recorded another out and the game ended:
-I don't ever remember hearing Jim Joyce's name before, although he's been in the league for years. That, as well as his forthright admission that he blew the call, speaks well of him. Sometimes, even good umps make bad calls.
-Galarraga handled the whole situation with incredible class and grace, not even arguing the call and making a show of forgiving Joyce for the whole thing. (And if don't you think the umps around the league will remember that....)
-This will probably lead to MLB adopting the instant replay for more plays than just disputed home run calls. I'm not thrilled at the prospect of more game delays, but fixing really egregious errors when they happen is for the best.
-On the other hand, retroactively awarding Galarraga the out on the bad call, as so many sportswriters are now demanding, would be an awful idea. The Tigers didn't protest the game (I don't think, offhand, that a protest can be pursued by the winning team or on a safe/out call on the bases), so the one precedent (the 1983 pine tar game, when the league reversed an on-field decision to strip a home run from George Brett, requiring the game to be replayed from that point) doesn't provide any support. And doing so just to preserve one player's individual accomplishment is antithetical to the point of team sports, in which we celebrate individual achievements that are reached within the flow of the game. It's not as if the league ordinarily does anything about blown calls even when they decide pennant races or postseason serieses. Galarraga will be remembered as the guy who earned the distinction, and in a way that's close enough. Like Harvey Haddix, he'll go down in history in a way that Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden won't.
-Three perfect games in a month: amazing. Scoring's down a bit, but not nearly enough to account for that.
-I gotta add this: I definitely picked the right week to have just activated Galarraga on my fantasy team.
No doubt Galarraga was robbed. That being said, missed calls are part of baseball. In many ways it is one of the endearing things about the game. Players, managers, offical scorers and umpires all make mistakes. The way both Joyce and Galarraga handled the situation was outstanding. Especially Joyce, in light of the behavior of West and other recently.
I just watched a home plate umpire in the Royals - Angels game walkaround in front of home plate and chew on Jason Kendall following a call where Kendall made no outward sign of showing up the ump. The disgraceful showings of umpires recently is alarming.
"A few thoughts on last night's fiasco"
Hmmm, I thought this post might be on the Mets not being able to capitalize on ANOTHER Santana gem. I mean, is there anything else the guy will have to do? Does he have to go out there and drive the guys in himself? Pathetic.
BTW, I think we should start calling K-Rod "Armando Benitez II".
I have trouble mustering much of any negative feeling toward this particular call, mostly because anyone I read who is annoyed/angered/outraged by the call doesn't seem to approach the idea that the ball was moving around in the pitcher's glove and wasn't secured, and provide any analysis in light of this. (Is the ball actually secured before the runner touches? Is the ump in position to make that call?)
Baseball does have some history of helping perfect games toward their final outs, though, I guess. And credit to pretty much all the important personnel involved for handling the situation well.
The offical scorer reviewed the play on MLB network last night and he concluded that the ball was secure and therefore no change could be made in the call. MLB has decided not to change the call either.
It would be a mistake to try to retroactively correct the record by giving him a perfect game because the precedent would cause all kinds of problems. What if the batter had been safe and the ump missed the call by giving the pitcher the out? Do we take away the perfect game?
What about a 3-2 pitch that was clearly off the plate but called a strike three? Asterisk? Of course not.
I agree with your comments regarding Joyce and Galarraga, each of whom acted in the most stand-up way possible. I think not only Galarraga, but the Tigers will benefit from the umpires' reaction to how it was handled.
I'm more conflicted, however, on the issue of MLB reversing the ruling. Selig is not creative enough to find a solution that most people could support; he is a tired empty suit. The situation presented here is, if not unique, pretty close in that there are unlikely to be any similar situations in the future. Stan's question about the 3-2 pitch seems an apples and oranges comparison since balls and strikes are issues that have always been treated differently; e.g., automatic ejection for arguing. Finally, reversing the ruling would have taken Joyce off the hook; it seems a shame he will be remembered primarily for this one call.
"A few thoughts on last night's game."
I am an Angels of Anaheim season ticket holder. Wednesday afternoon was the first Met game I went to in 2010.
What are the odds of seeing the first baseman hit a walk-off grand slam home run in two consecutive extra inning 5-1 games? I just did: Kendry Morales on 5/29 in the 10th inning (LAA 5, Sea 1) and Adrian Gonzalez on 6/2 in the 11th inning (SD 5, NYM 1). Gonzo did not break a leg celebrating. Lifetime I have seen seven (7) walk-off grand slams: Davey Lopes, David Eckstein, Steve Finley, Nomar Garciaparra, Torii Hunter, Kendry Morales and Adrian Gonzalez. Before last Saturday my odds of seeing a walk-off grand slam were 291.4 to 1 (5 in 1457 games). Now my odds of seeing a WO GS are 208.4 to 1 (7 in 1459 games). Rounding down to 208 to 1 the odds are 43,264 to 1 against seeing a WO GS in two consecutive games.
If a WO GS occurs in the next game I go to my odds of seeing a WO GS reduce to 170 to 1 (8 in 1460 games). My odds of seeing a consecutive three-peat WO GS are 4,923,000 to 1 (170 x 170 x 170). My odds and Las Vegas odds no doubt differ. The only betting I do is buying the tickets to get in to see the game!
Note: These calculations do NOT limit the WO GS occurrences to 5-1 final scores and first basemen only.
Jason Donald can join Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce on an Olympic medal stand if he states he will throw back the infield hit he was credited with as batter #27 in Galarraga's gem. That way it could be recorded as an "E umpire" and Galarraga would at least be officially credited with a no-hitter. Every time perfect games are mentioned Galarraga will be included with a "one that got away" comment.
I don't know what the odds of a walk-off GS happening in a baseball game are but I do know that no matter your history with seeing them your odds of seeing one are the same every single game you go see and no different than anyone else's odds of seeing one. It's like saying if you rolled a die 6 times and you rolled three 4s that your 7th roll would give you a 50 percent chance of rolling a 4 when in fact your odds of rolling a 4 are the same on every roll. Past performance is not an indicator of future events.