Sources: Commissioner Selig Reviews Galarraga Game

Major League Baseball sources with direct knowledge of the meeting confirm that key members of baseball’s hierarchy were to convene this morning in New York to review the circumstances of Umpire Jim Joyce’s erroneous “safe” call at first base in Detroit, which last night denied the Tigers’ Armando Galarraga what would have been the 21st Perfect Game in baseball history and the third in just 25 days.

There was considerable doubt that Commissioner Bud Selig felt he could or should intervene in overturning the results of an umpire’s on-the-field ruling. The Detroit News reported that the Tigers might be contacting MLB in hopes of remedying what umpire Joyce later admitted, clearly and emotionally, was a wildly incorrect call. The News quoted Tigers’ General Manager Dave Dombrowski as saying “I wouldn’t get into telling you what I would do. That’s a private matter. He shouldn’t have missed it. It’s a shame for the kid…”
Baseball sources said that as of late morning, the Tigers’ opponents, the Cleveland Indians, had not contacted the Commissioner’s office. Their support of any change to last night’s call might be a key factor.
“This isn’t a call,” Joyce said afterwards, “this is a history call. And I kicked the **** out of it, and nobody feels worse than I do…I took a perfect game away from that kid.”
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network tweeted that Commissioner Selig was “involved” and his office would have a statement at some point today.

Some in the Commissoner’s office were to urge Selig to declare that with Joyce’s admission, the 27th out of the game was recorded when Cleveland’s Jason Donald grounded out, first baseman Miguel Cabrera to pitcher Galarraga, covering first. The base hit credited to Donald, and the following at bat, by Cleveland’s Trevor Crowe, would be wiped off the books and thus Galarraga would be credited with a perfect game.
There is precedent for the Commissioner’s Office to decide what is, and isn’t, a perfect game. On September 4, 1991, a so-called “Statistical Accuracy Committee” ruled that the game would only official recognize as perfect games, ones in which pitchers retired 27 (or more) consecutive batters and completed the game without a batter reaching first base. The ruling wiped off the books the 1959 game in which Harvey Haddix of Pittsburgh pitched 12 perfect innings, only to lose the game to Milwaukee on a base hit. It also erased the 1917 game in which then-pitcher Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox had walked the lead off batter, then been ejected by the umpire for arguing the call. Reliever Ernie Shore entered the game with none out and that runner on first, who was promptly caught stealing. Shore then retired the 26 batters he faced, and had, at the time of the Commissioner’s Office ruling, been credited with a perfect game for more than 74 years. 48 more no-hit games were also erased by the re-definition of the rules.
There are also countless instances of umpires’ on-field decisions being reviewed and even overruled by the now dormant offices of the Presidents of the American and National League. One such review confirmed a controversial “out” ruling that ultimately decided the 1908 NL pennant. More recently, in 1983, after Kansas City’s George Brett had hit a two-out, 9th inning home run to bring his team from behind to ahead in a game in New York, umpire Tim McClelland determined that Brett had broken the rules by having the gripping substance “pine tar” further up his bat than rules permitted. McClelland nullified Brett’s home run and called him out for the final out of the game. Within days, American League President Lee MacPhail had overruled McClelland, declared the home run valid, and ordered the game replayed, more than a month later, from the point directly after Brett’s home run.

    63 Comments

    Great read, Keith. Exactly the information I was looking for this morning.

    There has been a growing chorus of complaints about umpires injecting themselves into games. This seems to happen every few years or so, and the umpires usually get raises and they shrink back into the blue cloud for a a while.
    What is truly sad is that the umpires, as a crew, did not at least step back and confer with each other just to be certain they got it right.
    Little hope of the Commish correcting this sad event, as just like so many of the umps lately, OLD Bud is not always right, but he is NEVER in doubt!

    Wow. I didn’t even think they’d meet on this. Figured Selig would just issue a statement on how great the human element of the game is.

    Why just review this single call? If the purpose of this is to ensure a perfect game was actually pitched, they should go back and review every single pitch. Were any called strikes actually balls or vice versa? Would need to re-score the entire game.

    Umpires aren’t “injecting themselves” into a game. They’re doing their jobs, arbitrating between two opponents. No one is perfect, and to expect perfection is to doom oneself to disappointment. Where is the praise for referees for the overwhelming percentage of good calls, especially close ones? We should be as accurate in our own professions but rarely if ever are.

    No, leave the game as is. Sh#t happens. The pitcher is over it, and if he can let it go, so should we.

    If they change the ruling, this will then be a perfect game with an asterisk. Leave it as it is.

    What if the same game situation had nothing to do with baseball history but with the season end standings? Reversing on-field decisions will open a can of worms that will do more harm than good.

    Great to read this, Keith. I’ve never been so angry about anything in baseball, and (obviously) it wasn’t even my team. I kept waking up last night, still feeling sick about this call. If this happened to my team I don’t know what I would do. But MLB needs to treat this like the Pine Tar Game– just like they overruled Tim McClelland and let George Brett’s home run stand, they need to overrule Jim Joyce and let that last out stand. There have been 21 perfect games in MLB history. Everybody knows it. Get it right.

    @Imyager, if we were debating the outcome of the game, I would not feel this way. Umpires in all sports make bad calls that influence the outcome of games all the time. It’s part of sport. I try to teach my daughters that they shouldn’t blame referees for the results of any game. Because if they have to rely on one call to win or lose a game, they probably missed a lot of opportunities to win decisively.

    But Galarraga went on to pitch a shut-out. Detroit won 3-0. So we aren’t really debating about the consequential outcome of the game. What is being argued here is only a rather important point of trivia, a matter of pride and history. I don’t think it’s fair to Galarraga, or Detroit fans, or even the fans of baseball in general, to deny that a perfect game was played, based on an obviously missed call.

    Keith, I think the George Brett pine tar incident is a poor piece of supporting evidence for your argument here. The game was not replayed because MLB or Lee MacPhail independently decided the call was blown. The Royals filed an official protest, just as the Yankees have done as recently as a few weeks ago, because they felt the rules were misapplied. In fact the rule had been misapplied. The rule only called for the bat to be thrown out of play, not for a home run to be taken away, as McClelland did. Joyce certainly missed the call and badly. However, there isn’t a mechanism in the game for an official protest of a blown judgment call, at least to my knowledge. My guess is it doesn’t get overturned as it would be an extraordinary precedent of overturning blown calls after the fact. Why wouldn’t Cardinals fans clamor for an overturn of Denkinger?

    Correct. The reversal of the Brett situation was a protestable call. It was not a judgment call but application of the rules, which is protestable. The changing of no-hitters and perfect games by statistical rule is irrelevant. That’s a matter of book keeping, nothing to do with the game, rules or umpiring. This was a judgement call and can not be protested.

    Keith: While Commissioner Selig is reviewing blown calls, maybe he can call interference on Ed Armbrister for running into Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, or Denkinger’s foul ball call in the 1985 Series, or how about Jeffrey Meier?

    Brett was a rule interpretation, properly appealed. (I was at the original game, but was unable to make it to the Stadium for the last inning and a third, which I watched on tv).

    This was a blown call. Part of baseball. The baseball gods did not want three perfect games in half of one season.

    If people want to play baseball the old way, you will lose more and more fans. We are all used to replays in professional sports. This game proves we need electronics to keep it a level playing field. A perfect game is really something. No human should make a judgement call on that play without seeing a replay if requested. Armando Galarrago pitched a perfect game. Period!

    The “imperfect” game.

    I still don’t support instant replay– just umpires with good vision. There will always be a gray area, even with technology. In football, you still have questionable pass interference calls that can’t be challenged (sorry Miami Hurricanes about your championship that was robbed from you) and then there was the “tuck rule” (Raiders vs. Patriots) where instant replay was the reason the game’s outcome was messed up (PG version). Some things are just inexcusable. Like having extra umpires in the outfield for the playoffs then the left field ump missing that Joe Mauer double– that’s the whole point of him standing there for 9 (or more) innings, for that very call. Or C.B. Bucknor looking directly at Cano’s foot on second base as he makes a throw against the Indians last weekend and thinking, “Golly gee I think I’ll say the runner is safe just for the heck of it and to spice things up” (my mind-reading skills may be only just a little off). Balk calls that have become like those NFL games where a left tackle’s bicep twitches and a flag is thrown. Instant replay won’t fix these problems. There will be other travesties– the Angels-White Sox, the Cardinals-Royals, or even the Fred Merkle play that Keith has talked about on “Countdown”. Moving forward, bad things will happen. But something can be done about this specific travesty. MLB can rule that the runner was out, it has no impact on the game’s outcome, everyone will breathe a sigh of relief, and Jim Joyce’s biography won’t be titled _Portrait of an Umpire Destroying the Dream of a Young Man_.

    If the Commissioner overrules the call, well fine. I have no vested interested in the outcome and I would like to see the third perfect game thrown as well as the next person. But, if the commissioner does overrule the call, it will comeback to haunt MLB.

    Peace.

    There is an important difference between this game and two you mentioned with overturned calls. After these two calls; there were no further pitches thrown; everybody went home. That is why upon further reflection; those calls were able to be overturned. More importantly, in the case of Merckle’s boner, no umpire ruled the game over to begin with because of the tide of fans and players on the field, and in the case of Brett’s home run, it was a misapplication of a rule, and not a blown call. Blown calls are not subject to protest.
    Once the next pitch is thrown, the call must be upheld; otherwise we’d have to go back and revisit hundreds of games throughout history. And the 1985 world series trophy should be immediately passed to the other side of Missouri.

    So Keith, will Jim Joyce be tonight’s “Worst Person In The World”?

    I think MLB should replace human umpires with floating robots with multiple cameras that capture every angle of the game.

    Ironically– or coincidentally– Armando Galarraga’s perfect game last night might be like Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630 home runs being the most hit by any player during the past 25 years, if you know what I mean.

    I’m just hoping that when Ollie Perez pitches his perfect game for the Mets that it isn’t ruined by a bad call. Oh wait…the bad call would be letting Ollie pitch in the first place,

    steveseay, I think your looking at this all wrong by saying Joyce should be the “worst person in the world”. This is the perfect thing to show our children and teach them the right thing to do. If my child was able to understand (she’s only 7 months now), I would sit her down and say “see? everyone makes mistakes, but as long as we know its a mistake, apologize and learn from it, it isn’t so bad”. I think keith should list Joyce as one of the greatest sports people in world for admitting his error and apologizing. Maybe Selig could be #2 if he reverses the call and gives the perfect game to Galaragga

    I am going to weigh in on this again. I like to argue.

    The argument that the call should be overruled because Joyce agrees with it doesn’t hold water with me. By that logic, it was okay to crucify Jesus because he acquiesced to it.

    I will concede to the idea that in this specific case there appears to be no harm no foul. But that really isn’t the issue as I see it. It is the precedent set for future games when there is harm or foul that is worrisome. I hate to keep pressing the law analogy but that is where I see the harm that is done when a court tries to make a ruling specific to the facts of the case. It almost always backfires because a court in a different jurisdiction has a case with simillar facts and wants the same result. From then on the issue snowballs until the exception swallows the rule. Serious damage has been done because of this.

    One may argue that this will never happen in baseball. I’ve heard that argument before as well, and it turned out to be a pipe dream. Unless you are clairvoyant, that argument is bogus.

    You don’t have to agree with me (as I am sure you won’t) but
    the opposing argument should be made by someone (not me of course) who understands the potential harm by the action.

    I’m done. For now. :>)

    Selig could have done a Bush v Gore: ?limited to the present circumstances? and could not be cited as precedent.

    [Selig could have done a Bush v Gore: ?limited to the present circumstances? and could not be cited as precedent.]

    Nah uh. That statement by SCOTUS isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. You know what they do? They get a similar case before them and they use the reasoning of the so-called non precedental case. They just don’t cite it. They do an end run and massacre some other case.

    I can argue this until the earth stops spinning on its axis.

    @stevesamazins: The precedent you can set is that when it DOESN’T change the outcome of a game you can correct the call.

    You could even make the case that individual stats should represent actual performance on the field, and that those stats can be corrected without changing the actual scoring of the game. But that more liberal precedent wouldn’t be requird in this case.

    In general: The MLB needs instant replay. Badly. Is it a cure-all? No. But it eliminates FAR more problem than it creates, even in sports with lots of wishy-washy calls like the NFL. Baseball is a game with very few gray areas: Even the strike zone is specifically defined, even if umpires can’t actually manage the job of keeping it consistent. But evn if you don’t want to apply it to pitching, refusing to apply it to fielding plays is simply idiotic.

    Answering the question: “Who’s foot touched that bag first?” would be incredibly trivial. As would, “Was that ball fall or fair?”

    catswithbats above got it exactly right, and everyone else is ignoring it.
    You can’t only review this one call and then call it a perfect game. EVERY call would have to be reviewed in order to be accurate. It’s either not a perfect game because humans make the judgments, or it is one (maybe) after using replay to make all the judgments. It makes no logical sense to pick and choose.

    Keith,
    I don’t think Ken Burns really hit the nail on the head. Yes, maybe eventually this will get consideration and be granted a perfect game in some years. But for today, tonight, and the integrity of the game… we must go with the call on the field of play. There were probably a bunch of possible game changing bad calls last night. So you’d like to pick the one to give a pitcher a perfect game? Because that would make three this year and break the record this early into a season? Well, as a Twins fan, I’d like the call back last night that ended the game in Seattle. I like our chances deeper in that game. But it’s not going to happen. He lost a perfect game, we lost a game in this years standings. Might that cost the Twins another playoff game at the end of the year?It’s the human part of the game. And until the rules change that is that! I applaud the Commissioners ruling!!!

    A few final thoughts before I put my soapbox back into storage. mrlyngreen, you bring the rule of law into the discussion and state “…when a court tries to make a ruling specific to the facts of the case. It almost always backfires…”. Isn’t this exactly what a court is supposed to do? You take the facts relevant to the case and make your judgements based on that. As for other courts following precedent, have you ever heard a lawyer start their arguement with “in the case of blank vs. blank…”. This is how our democracy works. You base rules and laws on precedent and if the law is found to be unjust, it can be changed. In the end, Selig did what he thought was right, and to be honest there was little chance that anything he did would be agreed with 100%. I still applaud Joyce and Galarraga for the way they handled the situation, but I feel that everyone who is writing in stating that the game would have been changed forever if Selig reversed the call needs to calm down…there have been plenty of changes to the game over the years which have changed the game and we still all love baseball.

    Ironically– or coincidentally– Armando Galarraga’s perfect game might be like Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630 home runs being the most hit by any player during the past 25 years.

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    I’m just going to say it. I think it is high time that baseball adopted a review system not unlike the NFL. We have amazing technology to ensure that every call is made correctly. I’m not saying that we should replace umpires with robots. I’m saying that if there was a simple “challenge” rule adopted, like the NFL challenge rule, to alert one to a bad call this kind of thing could be taken care of. In this case, the Tiger’s GM could have challenged the call leading to a review situation and overturn the call. If this could be added to the live game it would also take care of the baseball commissioner getting involved. I think it would add a level of excitement that many people feel is lacking in the game.

    Personally, I agree with Selig in the situation. Inevitably, part of the game is human error. It is always good when someone can admit they are wrong. essential oil blends

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    I can not just be angry with Joyce after Galarraga see how he reacted. Today’s game before it was even more incredible when Galarraga took the scorecard and shook hands with Joyce filled with tears. Even Miguel Cabrerra and Gerald Laird tapped him on the chest and both were livid last night. This demonstrates something I’ve learned in recent years as a recovering alcoholic, I learned that if you own up to something that takes a lot of pressure off .. Awesome article.
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    MLB has changed calls and the classiciation of games, sometimes decades later. The argument that this bad call must stand, whether based on precedent or the rules, is without merit. Changes have been made in games as far back as 1907.
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