Selig Blows A Call - You Surprised?

Bobby Curran
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Friday - June 09, 2010
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Armando Galarraga covers first base and Jason Donald appears to be out — but is called safe

When I happened to tune in to ESPN last Wednesday, I lucked into the Detroit Tigers taking the field in the bottom of the ninth with Armando Galarraga attempting to become the 21st pitcher in baseball history to throw a perfect game.

What would have, should have been the story was the amazing catch made on the dead run with his back to home plate by the centerfielder Austin Jackson - every bit as good as the Willie Mays catch on Vic Wertz’s drive in the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds. That catch happened before I was born, but I’ve watched the grainy video countless times. Jackson’s catch is in that class.

The next out is a routine ground ball. One final batter. Jason Donald hits a ground ball to first, Miguel Cabrera fields it and throws it to Galarraga covering, and the throw beats the runner by half a step.


Impossibly, inexplicably, first base umpire Jim Joyce signaled safe.

The Tigers were in shock, the announcers reduced to stunned near-silence, and the slow-motion replays kept showing the same result - a blown call keeping Galarraga out of the history books.

Which brings us to commissioner Bud Selig, the one man with the authority to right the wrong. The “best interests of baseball”

clause has often been employed in the past, mostly punitively. Here was an opportunity for a grand gesture from a man who exhorts others to “think outside the box.” He could have said that without making it a referendum on replay generally, he was going to vacate the final call of safe, saving the umpire from a lifetime of infamy, pleasing the jaded sporting public and giving Galarraga the piece of history he’d earned. Instead, Selig announced that the call would not be reversed. He said he recognized the call was incorrect, and would meet with both the players and umpires unions and they would form a committee that would then form another committee ... well, you get the picture.

What did you expect for the $18.3 million the owners pay Selig annually? An original thought? If he had one, it would be his first. Rarely has a man received so much for accomplishing so little.

But hats off to the obviously disappointed Galarraga, who handled himself with uncommon grace, even summoning a smile while he answered questions about what might have been. And to umpire Jim Joyce, who admitted the mistake and acknowledged, “I just cost that kid a perfect game.”

The next day Galarraga brought out the lineup card to Joyce at home plate, and they shook hands. If only Selig would have seized the moment in similar fashion.

Football prognosticator Phil Steele has his College Football Preview on newsstands now. Remember he was the only pundit to correctly predict in 2007 that Hawaii would play in the Sugar Bowl. Unlike many other experts, Steele believes UH will have a winning record this coming season, and return to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

His prediction for Hawaii’s opponent in the game? SMU, coached by former UH head man June Jones.

Think that game might sell out? Steele correctly identifies the offensive line as the major concern for Hawaii going into 2010.

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