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Retroactive Perfection a Possibility for Tigers Pitcher Galarraga

Joyce Everybody and their mother is talking about it this morning, whether they're baseball fans or not. Last night, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was outright shafted out of a perfect game -- one of the rarest feats in all of sports -- by an umpire's admittedly blown call.

We've all debated the "judge as umpire" analogy ad nauseam, but, as Ashby Jones points out at the WSJ Law Blog, in baseball, unlike in the courts, "There are [] no appeals, no higher three-umpire panels disgruntled players and coaches can turn to when calls don’t go their way."

But justice for Galarraga and Detroit may come from the Commish himself, Bud Selig. Monica Bay at The Common Scold posted an open letter to Commissioner Selig, imploring him to use his discretion to change the record books to reflect that Galarraga did, indeed, throw a perfect game last night. (Because Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's promised proclamation to that effect is unlikely to sway Bill James.) And it seems that Major League Baseball is seriously considering reversing the call.

It's a sad situation all around. Kudos to umpire Jim Joyce for accepting responsibility, and issuing both public and personal apologies to Galarraga. The audio is heartbreaking; to those calling for Joyce's head, breathe for a minute and consider that he did own up, big time.

Predictably, the instant replay debate has once again been thrust into the spotlight. Here is where I part ways with Monica. I am one of those "baseball purists" who thinks instant replay is a step in the wrong direction. I am against even the current limited procedure employed on disputed home run calls. I frankly didn't know Selig had the power to reverse a call, but, much as it pains me to say it, I kind of agree with this guy's slippery slope argument (though every time I heard someone use the phrase "slippery slope" in law school, I involuntarily convulsed). And the "E-Ump Rule" described at Above the Law sounds both impracticable and, well, insane.

Bad night for Galarraga. Bad night for Joyce. But that's baseball, folks. And they're gonna play it again today.

Posted by Eric Lipman on June 3, 2010 at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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