Selig to weigh more replay in wake of call
Expanded use to be examined after ruling spoils perfect game
Commissioner Bud Selig said on Thursday that he will review Major League Baseball's umpiring system and the possibility of expanding the use of instant replay, one day after umpire Jim Joyce's missed call at first base cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
"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."
In addition to praising Galarraga for his effort on the field, the Commissioner also commended the class shown by Galarraga, Tigers manager Jim Leyland, Joyce and others.
"The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order," Selig said. "Armando and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation. I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim's candor illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989."
While the Commissioner has the power to overturn the incorrect call at first base, he did not specifically address that possibility in the statement and, according to sources, is not expected to reverse it. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told The Associated Press that the team will not ask for the call to be changed.
The play transpired with two out in the ninth inning. Cleveland's Jason Donald hit a ground ball to the second-base area that was fielded by first baseman Miguel Cabrera, ranging to his right. Cabrera fielded it cleanly and threw to Galarraga, who clearly beat Donald to first base.
Joyce, however, called Donald safe, igniting a buzz from all corners of the Majors. After the game, Joyce admitted he had blown the call.
"It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it," Joyce said. "I just cost that kid a perfect game."
The only other possible result that would have preserved at least a no-hitter for Galarraga would have been an error. But that wasn't something the official scorer, Chuck Klonke, even considered.
"I saw the replay," Klonke said on Thursday, "and [Galarraga] had control of the ball at all times."
Tony La Russa, Cardinals manager and a member of Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters, said he believed that despite Joyce's error, a perfect game should be awarded to Galarraga by the Commissioner.
"We're all men, not machines. We make mistakes," La Russa said. "He admitted it. What they do is really, really hard, but I guarantee you he'll be one of the guys that will be very upset that he made a mistake in that situation. I think they all would, but I think that will really get him, because he's a pro."
The incident also has ignited calls for the expanded use of instant replay, which is among the topics being considered by the Special Committee. Replay currently can be used only to determine whether a batted ball is or isn't a home run. Any decisions to change any aspect of current procedure won't be Selig's call alone, as the Commissioner stated in the release, they will come with support from the unions and his committee.
Ironically, Leyland also serves on the committee that will now likely see instant replay pushed to the forefront of its agenda. Leyland, like many of his players, expressed disbelief, followed by empathy.
"That's the nature of the business, that's just the way it is. The players are human, the umpires are human, the managers are human, the writers are human," Leyland said. "We all make mistakes. It's a crying shame. Jimmy's a real good umpire, has been for a long time."
The Tigers and Galarraga came face-to-face with Joyce again when Joyce served as the home-plate umpire for Thursday's series finale at Comerica Park. Galarraga presented the lineup card to a tearful Joyce before the game.
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.