June 3rd, 2010
02:53 PM ET

Selig to examine umpiring, replay after 'perfect' error

Many baseball fans are saying Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game. So is the umpire who made the call.

[Updated at 2:49 p.m.] Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he will re-examine the umpiring system and the use of instant replay in the wake of the uproar over what should have been Armando Galarraga's perfect game in Detroit.

Umpire Jim Joyce called the Cleveland Indians' Jason Donald safe at first with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday night, ending the Tigers pitcher's bid for a perfect game. Joyce later admitted he made the wrong call.

"As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night's game should have ended differently," Selig said in a statement. "While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed.  Given last night's call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features.  Before I announce any decisions, I will consult with all appropriate parties, including our two unions and the Special Committee for On-Field Matters, which consists of field managers, general managers, club owners and presidents.”

[Updated at 1:06 p.m.] Less than 12 hours after losing a perfect game because of a blown call, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga took to the field once again in what turned out to be a day of celebration.

Galarraga, before Thursday's home game against the Cleveland Indians, was presented with a new red Corvette from Chevrolet and received cheers and applause from the fans and his teammates. Then in a very emotional moment, Galarraga presented the Tigers lineup card to the umpire who cost him his perfect game the night before - Jim Joyce.

Joyce stepped onto the field amid a smattering of boos, but some applause as well. His face was red and was obviously holding back tears as he approached home plate with the rest of the umpiring crew.

Galarraga gave him the lineup card and then shook hands with Joyce and the Indians' manager. Joyce appeared to wipe away tears as Galarraga returned to the dugout.

[Updated at 12:36 p.m.] Michigan's governor has thrown her weight behind local fans in trying to get Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga the perfect game many feel he deserves. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has issued a proclamation declaring Galarraga did pitch a perfect game, CNN affiliate WXYZ reported.

[Posted at 11:39 a.m.] As the saying goes, nobody's perfect.

For one night, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was as perfect as any pitcher could be – getting the first 27 batters out. However, he had to face 28 batters after an admitted blown call by an umpire robbed him of his place in baseball history.

With two outs in the ninth inning, Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald smacked a ground ball to the right of Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera cleanly fielded the ball and tossed it to Galarraga, who was covering first.

Ball arrived. Galarraga touched first before Donald. Game over and the third perfect game of the season was in the record books.

Except umpire Jim Joyce inexplicably called Donald safe.

MLB.com: Watch the play

Television replays showed that Donald was out by half a step. For his part, Galarraga just smiled after Joyce made the safe call, went back to the mound and got the final out of the game. Some Tigers congratulated Galarraga on his win while others began berating Joyce as he was trying to leave the field.

SI.com's Posnanski: Galarraga's reaction a lesson in grace

Joyce went to the umpires' room, watched the replays, realized he made a mistake and, in a rarity, went to the Tigers locker room and, in tears, apologized to the young pitcher for missing the call.

"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce said.

"It was the biggest call of my career and I kicked the [expletive] out of it," Joyce said. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the replay."

Hear Joyce talk about the call

And with that word – "replay" – Joyce reignited a debate that has been raging for a few years. It is all that baseball fans are talking about today - throwing around terms about "blown calls" and the worst decisions ever made in sports history. Fans are urging for the MLB to find a way, somehow, to change the call, despite the sport's ties to history and tradition. (SI.com's Jon Heyman is reporting MLB commissioner Bud Selig will issue a statement today about the situation - though it was unclear if any actual ruling would come out of it.)

Baseball uses replays only for questionable home run calls, but fans have been clamoring for the sport to join the 21st century and get game-changing calls right with instant replay. SI.com's Frank Deford says for the good of the game, Selig should reverse the call.

SI.com: What do you think MLB should do? | WDIV: Station starts petition

Currently, the NFL has a challenge system that allows coaches to ask for plays to be reviewed. They can also be challenged by off-field officials who are looking at video of the game.

The NBA uses replays to determine timing questions – like whether the ball left the hand before the buzzer went off – and also to determine whether a shot was taken from beyond the 3-point line.

The NHL uses replays for the most important aspect of their game – scoring goals. And in last night's Stanley Cup playoff game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers, replays were used twice to determine whether a goal had been properly scored.

The NFL, NBA and the NHL all instituted instant replay reviews to make sure the game was being played properly and prevent outcomes from occurring from mistakes made in rules interpretations. They all want to "get it right," as has been said multiple times.

Not since the 1985 World Series, where Don Denkinger's blown call tipped the balance away from the St. Louis Cardinals into the favor of the Kansas City Royals, has a missed call changed baseball history. After years of reflection (and threats) about his call, Denkinger told the New York Post he now supports instant replay in Major League Baseball.

"There are so many areas you can use instant replay," Denkinger told the New York Post. "Maybe instant replay can clean things up. If a play is missed, it can be corrected. I didn't feel that way in '85, but I feel that way now.

"We want everything to be called correctly. Unfortunately it isn't, because we're just human beings."

The call by Joyce should be the trumpet sound for baseball to accept expansion of replays into the game.

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who argued vehemently during the game, was in a more consolatory mood later and said no one would feel worse about the missed call than Joyce.  Joyce's career - though he has worked multiple World Series games and has had the respect of the players in the past - will likely be defined by the one call he didn't get right.

But all is not lost.

Commissioner Bud Selig has the power to reverse the missed call. Galarraga should get his perfect game. And while MLB officials are still mulling what to do about last night's mistake, they should also begin formulating a plan to make instant replays available on a wider basis so more umpires won't have such a career-defining moment like Joyce.

If they do, then perhaps Joyce can be remembered as the umpire who opened the eyes of baseball to the 21st century – even if he didn't mean to.

Post by:
Filed under: Sports
soundoff (363 Responses)
  1. Chris, Sherburne, New York

    Dear Commissioner Bud Selig,

    Mistakes of this caliber are not unfamiliar with sports and as it has been the case in several instances, the owners of their respective sports industries have ruled on such mistakes and corrected them. As with anything regarding human activity, there is human error. It is said that 'To err is human, to forigve divine'. As your umpire did during that fateful Tigers/Indians game, he not only admitted his error but later apologized to the pitcher for having cost him what would have been a prestigious honor. That he did this was to some surprise, but that the pitcher who was robbed of this accomplished acted with the sportsmanship the likes of which are a rare sight in any American sport nowadays and later accepted the umpire's apology with open friendship that transcends the definition of 'professional', adds a profound emotional touch to this event in sports history. At a time when emotion would run high and tempers might cause an un-needed backlash, two people recognized each other for what they were – human. Both understood the event that occured, both understood and realized the folly of one's action at the time and both pitcher and umpire reconciled their differences in a professional manner in a way every single one of us should be proud of after that game's end.

    That you, Mr. Selig, would not also show, not only the players and umpires involved but the fans that watched and then later heard the event, YOUR humility in admitting to the human error involved in that game and correctly awarding the Tiger's pitcher the distinction of a perfect game shows all of us, sir, that you have not evolved past your disdain for allowing wrong decisions to be overturned, either by instant replay or by any other means. To argue a point, sir, that you say something like overturning a call on the field would ruin the integrity of the game is a complete and utter FARCE, because the steriod scandlas and the men that used them and later achieved milestones under those conditions and you hold some of THEM and their accomplsihments to be true is laughable. For the simple sake of doing what has already deemed to be, in most everyone's opinion except yours Mr. Selig, the accepted truth among the players and the fans, overturn this horrendous call and give this man his just dues. He pitched a perfect game and now, seemingly, the only thing he needs to overcome to have it rightfully acknowledged is for you Mr. Selig is to say "We were wrong. That pitcher did pitch a perfect game, the history books will reflect this and we apologize for the inconvience this has casued all involved." Just like your umpire apologized.

    June 4, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Leonard

    What was the umpire looking at to make a call that bad. I could see if it was really close too call...but the runner was a good foot away. Maybe he forgot the "out" sign and did the "safe" sign instead....The one that got away.

    June 4, 2010 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. Andy McGill

    Baseball sorely needs a real commissioner, not an owner-studge. If anything ever, ever, ever called for intervention by a commissioner, this is it. No wonder steroids were encouraged by MLB. Why even attend this sport anymore?

    June 4, 2010 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. A. Sailor

    I know it'll get lost in the thread, But I want to gIve n Jason Donald and Jim Joyce each a huge HURRAY!!! for each acting like gentlemen, adding dignity & sportsmanship to an event when it is generally lacking in 'professional sports'... For continuing the game as it was called by the officials and for openly appologising for ones own honest mistake. Both of these people deserve places in the record books. I wish for the best for both, their actions strengthen the sport, professional sports, and serve as an example for all of us in our daily lives...

    June 4, 2010 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jon Springer

    Bothered by Bud Selig's refusal to overturn the bad call? Join Facebook group "Bud Selig: Nimrod" today.........http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=122492331119428

    June 4, 2010 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. you suck


    June 4, 2010 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. screamane

    and.......life goes on.. Great pitching, blown call, too bad, get over it, it will happen again.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jason B.

    Of course Selig won't overrule anything. That would require him to actually step up and take a stand on something. The guy's a total waste.

    June 4, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dale

    Everyone seems to be missing a great point here. This story is a great chance to teach kids about character. "Galarraga just smiled after Joyce made the safe call, went back to the mound and got the final out of the game." That's character, he didn't throw a fit and act like an overpaid 3-year old. When Joyce, realized he made a mistake, he went to Galarraga and aplolgized, with tears in his eyes....That's character....Baseball need more men like both of these men.

    June 4, 2010 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Melody Three Rivers, CA

    I think everyone could learn from how pitcher, Armando Galrraga and umpire, Jim Joyce handled themselves and the situation. They both had amazing grace, and compassion for one another. Especially all the obnoxious sports fans, who yell and cuss, and want everything their way. That includes some parents I've seen at Little League games. How you treat people describes who you are. I think both these men are champions. The umpire made a human error and as Galarraga said, he thinks the umpire feels worse than he does.

    June 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. news.blogs.cnn.com

    Perfect mistake reignites mlb replay debate.. Smashing 🙂

    April 21, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17