Last I checked, there is not a single soul on this great planet of ours who is perfect. Yet, in a baseball sense, we found ourselves on the brink of perfection for the third time in less than a month. Still basking in the glow of Roy Halladay’s perfect game – MLB’s second in a three-week span and only the 20th in history – while trying to ignore the Phillies current struggles, one of the sport’s rarest of gems nearly shined upon us yet again.
Detroit’s Armando Galarraga was just one out away from celebrating the 21st perfecto in the history of baseball. It always seems as though that final out is the toughest to record in a pressure cooker like this, and last night, was it ever. To the four people in America who haven’t heard the story: With two outs, Cleveland’s Jason Donald hit a chopper in the hole, forcing first baseman Miguel Cabrera to make a quick play to his right. With Galarraga covering first, Cabrera’s throw appeared (well it did) to have beaten Donald. With the home crowd on its way to a mass celebration, first base umpire Jim Joyce called Donald safe. A hush (and some groans) fell over the crowd. Having seen it on live TV, I knew it was a close play, but figured the ump would err on the side of the pitcher in this situation. While Joyce felt the wrath of the Tigers and the crowd, the replays confirmed their “dissatisfaction” for the call. One person who refrained from the Jim Joyce lambasting was none other than Armando Galarraga. Galarraga smiled and quietly walked back to the mound, quickly recording the final out for a perfect one-hitter.
Immediately following the game, having seen the heart-dropping replay, an extremely remorseful and self-loathing Jim Joyce apologized to reporters, walked over to the Tigers locker room, apologized to the team, and most importantly to Galarraga. To both men’s credit, the awful situation could not have been handled better. Joyce, a respected umpire for more than 20 years, immediately admitted his mistake, saying everything he possibly could to make things better – if at all possible. For his part, Galarraga graciously accepted the apology, and took the whole debacle like a champ, ironically replying to reporters, “Hey, nobody’s perfect.”
Today presented a rare opportunity for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to reverse the call (as it would’ve had no negative impact on the outcome), and allow Gallaraga to savor what is rightfully his, while possibly letting Joyce off the hook. Unfortunately, the call was not reversed, and we’re all left with the lasting image of the most memorable one-hitter in the history of baseball. In his heart, Armando Galarraga knows he pitched a perfect game last night, but sadly he’ll never receive the true accolades that he deserves (although he did get a shiny Corvette from Chevy). Perhaps the one silver lining (aside from the ‘Vette) is that the general public got a chance to see the types of individuals that Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga truly are. Both men faced an imperfect moment with the utmost of class.