Last night I watched Armando Galarraga (of my favorite team, the Detroit Tigers) pitch a perfect game. And then I didn't.
For those who don't know baseball, a perfect game is when the pitcher retires all 27 batters in order. That means he doesn't allow a hit or a walk, and his team makes no errors in the field. Last night, Armando Galarraga retired 26 Cleveland Indians in order, and then this happened.
The replays confirm that Donald, the Indians' batter, was out. Had umpire Jim Joyce made the correct call, Armando Galarraga would have pitched the first perfect game in Detroit Tigers' franchise history.
As a lifelong Tiger fan, this was one of those moments you can only hope will happen while you're alive, much less while you're watching. (I live in Columbus and can only watch the Tigers when they play the Indians.) I had come home early from a date with my wife because a freak thunderstorm had blown over town, replete with funnel clouds. We didn't think it was right to be away from the kids during the storm, so we came home, looked at the radar, and then turned on the game. I saw Austin Jackson's incredible catch to record the first out in the ninth, running toward the deepest part of the park and snagging the ball Willie Mays' style on a dead sprint. That's when I knew Armando would get it.
But then he didn't. To his credit, Jim Joyce apologized to Galarraga after seeing a replay after the game. He feels awful, and now his spotless career as a big league ump is forever marred. I hope we Tiger fans can forgive him.
Galarraga handled the whole affair with class and dignity. He smiled immediately after the blown call, didn't let it get into his head, and immediately retired the next batter for, what I call, the first 28 out perfect game in the history of baseball. He knows he threw a perfect game. We all do. And no bad call on the 27th out can steal that from him.
Forgiveness is at the forefront of my mind, and has been for several weeks now. Maybe it sounds trite to you, but I forgive Jim Joyce. The Tigers' needed this perfect game--it would have been the first in their long and storied history. Detroit needed this perfect game. The city is hurting and now they feel like they're cursed. As a Tiger fan and someone born and raised in Detroit's minor league city of Toledo, I forgive you Jim Joyce. You're a good ump who made one bad call. And no matter what the record books say, we all know it was a perfect game. Armando Galarraga just got one extra out to prove it.