Men In Blue Are A Little Black
To set the scene: Earlier in the day, with Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers just one out away from pitching a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base that broke everything up (the runner was clearly out, as indicated by the instant replay). As of this time, Commissioner Bud Selig is refusing to overturn the call and give Galarraga his perfecto, despite an admission of guilt from Joyce.
Then, the Twins-Mariners game last night transpires as follows:
Kevin Slowey and Cliff Lee lock up in a magnificent pitching duel, with the score tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the tenth inning. With runners on first and second and two outs, Ichiro Suzuki hits a slow roller up the middle that Matt Tolbert adeptly smothers and flips to JJ Hardy for what looks to be the final out of the inning. However, despite the fact that replays show the ball beat the runner to the bag, the runner was called safe and, by that time, the lead baserunner had already wheeled around third and scored easily:
Two blown calls that cost their respective players/teams potentially dearly. In Galarraga’s case, he will likely never approach a perfect game if he pitches for 20 more seasons. The Twins, on the other hand, know first-hand the importance of a single game (we’ve played in two consecutive 163-game seasons) on the standings. I can see the kind of tough position this puts Bud Selig in, and thus can understand why he is hesitant to overturn the Tigers call (as wouldn’t that be valuing individual achievement over team victories?).
Let’s just hope that this sort of fiasco leads to the introduction of instant replay into MLB as early as next season (or even this postseason in full-fledged form). Football purists (if such a group exists) argued against instant replay for the same reasons that baseball purists (a much larger group) argue against it today (undermines umps, slows down the game, etc.). However, replay has now become an established part of the NFL, and the league is (at least in my opinion) much better off for it, as getting the call on the field correct is the ultimate goal. It should be the same in baseball as well.
Preview (31-22, 1st, 3.0 GA DET): Carl Pavano (5-5, 3.99) vs. Felix Hernandez (2-4, 3.50)