Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Regret that I have But One * For My Country

The asterisk has often been used throughout history but not always in an intelligent way.
As a child I remember the bastardization of Nathan Hale's one life speech as noted in the title above.
An asterisk anywhere in a book or publication generally directs our attention to the bottom of the page upon which it appears.  The explanation thereby given is thus known as a footnote.
This week another footnote should be added to that most imperfect game of Baseball.
One of the supposedly better umpires of the game, or as some might say less bad, made an obviously wrong call.
There is nothing new about umpires making bad calls in fact there are probably a few made every single game.  But this one changed history.  It took a perfect game away from the pitcher and turned it into what will soon become the most famous one hitter ever.
When a bad call happens in the third inning or the fifth inning it is bad but once the game proceeds thee is nothing that can be done to change things back.  But when it is made with two outs in the ninth inning of a perfect game, well that's really *#%*.
First base umpire Jim Joyce admitted after the game that perfect game candidate Armando Galarraga had the ball in his glove and his foot on the bag before the runner touched the base.  
That simple fact means that the game is over and the celebration begins.  Three straight outs in the ninth to be added to the twenty four consecutive outs in the previous eight innings is perfection.
But baseball is not perfect nor are the humans who play it or the umpires who control it!
Jim Joyce apologized after the game and hugged Armando but unfortunately while nice it is not enough.
So unless commissioner Bud Selig goes against tradition and opens up the can of worms that would be an overturn of the clearly wrong 'safe' call Mr. Gallaraga will have to live with the knowledge that he threw a perfect one hitter.
Of course there is also the fact that another more historic perfect game was tainted by a bad call for the final out and there was no replay to overturn that one.
Don Larsen's 27 outer in the World Series ended on a third strike call of a clearly outside pitch.  Babe Pinelli, the umpire who was later seen crying over his error claimed that it was close enough for the batter to have tried to hit it!  Personally I am happy it was not overturned - I have the scorecard and ticket stub to that game! :-)
A good umpire should be unbiased, fair and as accurate as humanly possible but not clairvoyant.
However when clearly visible mistakes are made that we can prove with replay technology and they do not interfere with the game, too much we should correct them.  We do that for home runs down the line, why not for game ending close plays of historic magnitude?
Mr. Commish how about dusting off the old Roger Maris asterisk?  And this time do it before the recipient of the correction passes away! (Gallaraga is only 28 so you have time.)
Place this perfect game in the record books and give the man his due! You'll also be taking Mr. Joyce off the hook.
Baseball's record breaking third perfect game in one year was pitched by Armando Gallaraga of the Detroit Tigers when he notched 27 consecutive outs from the start of the game against the Cleveland Indians. *

* The last out was originally called safe by first base umpire Jim Joyce but overturned later by everyone with eyesight.

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