Update: Bud Selig takes a stand and says he won't overturn the call.
Armando Galarraga(notes) had barely recorded his 28th out on Wednesday night — a groundout from Trevor Crowe(notes) — when everyone started to talk and write about whether Bud Selig should (or could) step in to overturn Jim Joyce's egregious call at first base a few moments earlier.
Craig Calcaterra weighed the possibilities of the idea. So did Keith Olbermann. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said Galarraga should be retroactively credited with the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Countless Tweets pushed for the same.
Opinions varied, but now comes word that Selig and Major League Baseball are still undecided on whether they should review Joyce's call and possibly right the biggest wrong in recent memory. Rule 4.19 in the MLB rulebook prevents the Tigers from protesting the game over a judgment call from the umpire, but Olbermann points out that previous commissioners have tailored the record books to disallow games that had previously been ruled perfect games or no-hitters. And the Detroit News reports that the Tigers might have gone ahead and contacted the league about their displeasure, anyway.
There are obviously a lot of intense emotions being felt here and the most just move would be to credit Galarraga with that perfect game. Joyce admitted he made a mistake, the replays clearly confirm it and it seems like it's something a majority of the public wants. I have a sneaky suspicion that Selig is going to overturn Joyce's call. I can't say for certain why I feel that way, it just seems like something he'd do.
And yet if that happens, I won't be able to support or endorse it. Throwing the rulebook out the window is a slippery slope and it opens the door on a potential Pandora's box of sticky situations. Does Selig really want to be in a position this fall where an umpire blows a call that costs a team a World Series game and then its fanbase wonder why the rules can't also be bent for them? And how about the countless other blown calls in the past that could have used his ivory tower reviewing? There's no way that Selig can say "just this once" while looking the other way on the rules that govern his game. It'd be a poorly conceived mistake of 2002 All-Star Game proportions.
Look, what happened on Wednesday night was a terrible thing and we all feel bad for Galarraga and Joyce, the umpire who had one of the worst all-time days at the office.
But if this Imperfect Mistake is to have a lasting legacy, it'll come in the movement to adopt expanded instant replay for situations like this.
Not by placing a "one-time exception" band-aid that makes the rules of the game irrelevant.