The Catalyst for Real Replay in Baseball?

This is just depressing (at least in the context of sports), and I am (at best) a casual baseball fan:  Imperfect Umpire Blows Pitcher’s Perfect Game.

You’ve got to give it to umpire Jim Joyce — his last call in the Detroit Tigers’ 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night was a gutsy one. Horribly wrong but gutsy.

Joyce was the umpire who called Cleveland’s Jason Donald safe even though Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, covering first base for infielder Miguel Cabrera who deftly backhanded Donald’s ground ball, caught Cabrera’s throw to first and tagged the base while Donald was still one step away. (You make the call.)

It should have been the final out, giving Galarraga a perfect game, the first one in the Tigers’ long history and the third perfect game in Major League Baseball in less than four weeks. There have only been 20 perfect games in MLB history.

Indeed, if Joyce had made the right call, it would have been the first time MLB had three perfect games in one season. But it didn’t happen because the first base umpire needed glasses, so to speak.

To his credit, Joyce was full of regret after the game and even apologized abjectly to Galarraga for blowing the call so badly.


The blown call is renewing demands by some fans to expand the use of instant replay in baseball. It is used on a limited basis currently, for example, to check to see if a ball hit down the line and out the park is a home run or foul.

Maybe more instant replay in baseball would be the perfect end to an imperfect situation.

And what is also wild:  this would have been the third perfect game this season after only 17 prior in the history of baseball.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Sports
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. PD Shaw says:

    Nah, the game is too long as it is. And the perfect game needs to be put in perspective. It’s an individual statistic that is significantly dependent upon other people doing their job. If the first basemen had been half-a-step slow, or dropped the ball, the kid doesn’t get a perfect game, even though he pitched the exact same way. So, one hand, I would want to stop the game for individual stats and on the other hand, a perfect game is a weird personal stat to begin with.

    (As a Cardinal fan, I still bear scars from Game 6 of the ’85 World Series, where a similar blown call lost the Series. But I also got to fess up that there were opportunities the Cardinals failed to execute to win that game.)

  2. John Burgess says:

    If you want perfect baseball, set two computers playing MLB 2K10 against each other.

    Otherwise, I’m all for the reality of a ‘shit happens’ game. Bad calls are just as much a part of it as a fielder’s error or the DH’s whiff. It’s very rare that a single bad call changes the outcome of a game (this one didn’t).

    That said, MLB could tighten up its scrutiny of umpires; there are, IMO, a few out there who should be retired/fired.

  3. just me says:

    I don’t think I like the idea of instant replay for basic safe/out calls. Sure an ump is going to get it wrong sometimes, but what’s the point of having an umpire if half their job is going to be second guessed by a TV camera?

    I also agree that instant replay for the basic calls would stretch games even longer in a game that is already too long.

  4. DC Loser says:

    And why are the game so long nowadays? I misspent many a summer in the 70s listening to Mets games on the radio, watching them on TV, and sitting in the grandsstands at Shea. I recall most games back then were on the order of 2 hours, and some of them even less. What’s going on today that’s making the games so much longer? The batters taking forever to step into the box and going through their 30 second ritual (tugging their sleeves, looking at the bat, fixing their gloves, etc.) before every pitch? The pitchers taking too long to catch the signs from the catcher? TV commercials? I can’t understand why 3 hours + is now the norm.