06/03/10 8:45 PM ET
Bodley: Selig makes the right call
Despite emotions, changing history would be a mistake
It would have been easy for the Commissioner, in the midst of an enormous outpouring of emotion, to use his powers Thursday and declare Armando Galarraga's perfect game on Wednesday night truly a perfect game.
Instead, Selig, according to Major League Baseball sources, will not reverse umpire Jim Joyce's blown call that deprived the Detroit Tigers' Galarraga of the 21st perfect game in baseball history. It will go down perhaps as the most famous -- and controversial -- one-hitter of all time.
The Commissioner would have been applauded by just about everyone had he corrected this unfortunate mistake. He would have removed a huge mental burden from Joyce, who'll be labeled and burdened with this call the rest of his life.
Selig's stand is that he'll look at baseball's umpiring system and the expanded use of instant replay.
"While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed," Selig said in his statement, which did not address his decision to allow the call to stand. "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."
Had Selig taken the easy way out he would have established a precedent that could have come back to haunt him and the sport. Years from now, that decision would be an integral part of his legacy.
The argument is that to reverse Joyce's call on what would have been the 27th out would not have affected the outcome of the game. Detroit won 3-0.
Joyce, one of baseball's most respected umpires in his 22nd season, called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe, though Galarraga covering first base, clearly had his foot on the bag when he took a throw from first baseman Miguel Cabrera -- ahead of Donald's foot coming down on the base.
Regardless, a Commissioner's "best interests of baseball" powers cannot and should not be used to turn a hit into an out -- by mere proclamation.
You cannot go back 24 or 36 or 48 hours and change a call. Had Selig done that Thursday, it would have opened up future scenarios too numerous to mention.
At first, I felt Selig owed it to baseball, Galarraga and Joyce to reverse the call.
"Do it, do it now!" was my message.
But hours later, I realized that future ramifications from this one reversed call could be monumental.
More importantly, future good can arise from this by expanding instant replay.
This is already being discussed by Selig's Special Committee for On-Field matters. Expanded replay will now be a priority item on the agenda. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, who thought Selig should reverse Joyce's call, and Detroit skipper Jim Leyland are members of the committee.
Nobody would have been happier to have that tool available for Wednesday night's call than Jim Joyce.
Selig has always resisted allowing the charm of baseball's human element to be compromised by this era's sophisticated technology. He reluctantly allowed the introduction of video replay in 2008 essentially for home run calls, fair or foul, etc.
Most umpires I speak with are so intent on getting the calls right that they will welcome expanding the replay system. As long as it doesn't become a hindrance.
The oddity of this is that the replay of Donald's grounder and Joyce's call on Wednesday night has been played thousands of times. And it will be replayed even more in years to come. Too bad it couldn't have been used to get the call right.
I can almost guarantee that after what happened at Comerica Park on Wednesday night, there will be more video replay used next season.
How often and in what circumstances will be the tricky part. It must be limited because the one aspect Selig won't tolerate is slowing games down. But when umpires convene on the field as a committee to get a call in question correct they probably spend as much time as they would quickly checking replay.
Selig was annoyed, if not distraught, over the many blown calls during the 2009 postseason.
"Before I announce any decisions, I will consult with all appropriate parties," Selig said on Thursday.
Yet Selig should be at peace with himself after doing the right thing.
Luckily for him, he hasn't had to get involved in one of the most incredible stretches of intriguing stories baseball has offered and the calendar has just turned to June.
The Phillies' Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game on Saturday, just 20 days after Oakland's Dallas Braden did the same thing.
Ken Griffey Jr., a certain Hall of Famer with 630 home runs, retired only a few hours before Galarraga threw his first pitch to the Indians, another historic event that was overshadowed by a blown call at first base.
Ubaldo Jimenez, the Colorado Rockies sensation who etched a no-hitter earlier this year, has been almost inhuman, recording a 10-1 record with an uncanny 0.78 ERA.
Who would believe the Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in the Major Leagues, forcing the Yankeees, Red Sox, et al, to chase them?
And the Washington Nationals, not to mention baseball, are bracing for the heralded arrival of pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who'll make his big league debut on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Maybe the three no-hitters and two perfect games are a sign of the times this season. Through Wednesday, there were 30 starting pitchers in the Major Leagues with ERAs under 3.00.
Oh, I said two perfect games? It should have been three.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.