Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Griffey retires; Detroit pitcher robbed of perfect game

Just when you thought you've seen everything in baseball.


Not even a couple hours after Major League Baseball was shocked with the news of Ken Griffey Jr. retiring, an even more stunning development happened in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers RHP Armando Galarraga sent 26 batters back to the dugout when Jason Donald, Cleveland's No. 9 hitter came to the plate.

Donald hit a slow chopper to 1B Miguel Cabrera, who threw it to Galarraga covering first.

Galarraga clearly beat Donald to the bag on a close play.

Perfect game!!!!.......Tiger fans go crazy ..... whoa, dere .... wait just a minute.

Inexplicably, first base umpire Jim Joyce, a 22-year veteran who is widely considered one of the best umps in the business, called Donald safe, effectively robbing Galarraga from tossing just the 21st perfect game in baseball history.

Here's a twitpic that's crystal clear. And here's the video:


To Joyce's credit, he quickly admitted being wrong and regretted the call.

"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce told AP. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."

Jim Leyland, never shy about giving an umpire an earful, argued after the play, then really gave Joyce the business after the game ended one batter later on a harmless grounder to third.

But the damage was done.

"I don't blame them a bit or anything that was said," said Joyce, who was voted by the players twice in a Sports Illustrated poll as the 2nd best umpire in all of baseball. "I would've said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would've been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me."

Benefit of the doubt clearly went out the window on this call. Tie goes to the runner? Usually. When a perfect game is on the line? Uh, yeah. And then some.

But as critical as many will be about Joyce's missed call, plenty of credit should be due to how he handled the aftermath. Joyce personally went to both Gallaraga and Leyland and offered a heartfelt apology. Reports were that Joyce hugged Galarrag and was even tearing up when offering his apology.

According to Galarraga, Joyce told him "I'm so sorry in my heart," The Free-Press reports. "I don't know what to tell you.

"He feels so bad," Galarraga continued. "He's sitting in there in his whole uniform."

Galarraga responded kindly, telling Joyce, "Nobody's perfect."

And on this night, unfortunately, that included Galarraga.

His 1 hour, 44 minute gem would have been the third perfect game in the past month with the Phillies' Roy Halladay spinning one Saturday and Oakland's Dallas Braden doing the same in early May. By comparison, there has been only one decade (1990s) that have seen three perfect games.

So, yeah, the debate is effectively on. Should instant replay be expanded to all field calls in baseball? This sure adds a couple logs to the fire. And maybe a gallon or two of gasoline. I'm still not in favor of expanding it, but the case could clearly be made tonight. And I'm finding less reasons to argue against it.

Some say another perfect game -- the fourth in less than a year -- would have been even bigger news than an umpire costing a pitcher the same feat.

I guess we'll never know.

Griffey retires: After 22 years and 630 home runs, Ken Griffey Jr. has announced his retirment from baseball Wednesday. Griffey, who started in Seattle, then later moved to Cincinnati, returned to Seattle last year but injuries and age (40) finally caught up with the 1997 MVP.

Many of us first were introduced to Griffey's star power with the hype of his rookie baseball card, a 1990 Upper Deck card that was as simple as it was hugely popular.

Recently, Griffey had gone a week without playing and after a report of Griffey falling asleep in the Mariners clubhouse during the late innings of a game, there was tension in the clubhouse about whether or not he would get regular at-bats.

Here's a shoutout to Griffey, the .284 lifetime hitter, who played the game the right way, helped bring baseball back in the 90's and led countless thousands to fantasy titles throughout the past two decades.

First-ballot Hall-of-Famer, no questions asked.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonder how much he and the rest of the crew received as payoff. How does a home plate umpire not confer and overrule the call?

Wonder if it was more than Don Denkinger received for throwing the 1985 World Series to the Royals.

Anonymous said...

The Royals lost the 1985 World Series against St. Louis.

Anonymous said...

... It was a 1989 Upper Deck baseball card

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