The 21st Perfect Game
“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshiped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball… I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.” – Annie Savoy” Bull Durham
The game of baseball is a game of half a step, half an inch, half a second. The difference between making the most amazing play and becoming part of history or falling short.
Tonight was a historical night. Armando Galaragga made history by being the 21st pitcher to pitch a perfect game. But you won’t see his name in the books. His accomplishment won’t be written as a rare feat. In fact, what you will see on record is that he made it through 8.2 innings when he gave up a hit to Jason Donald. Don’t let the books fool you, it wasn’t a controversial call by first base umpire Jim Joyce, it was a flat out wrong call. There shouldn’t have been any question in any one’s mind on whether or not Jason Donald was safe. He wasn’t.
In my baseball life, which I’ll confess, has been short lived thus far, I have never been more upset about a call than I was tonight. Not that final called strike which was clearly a ball on one of my Rockies, not the safe call that was clearly out on one of my Red Sox. No. This call tonight, this blown call by Jim Joyce, THIS was unbelievable.
All those other calls? I’ll get over them. I got over them. It was an isntant that was me yelling at my TV and telling the umpire that I, as a squinty eyed asian, had better vision than he did.
Tonight’s blown call is one that I can’t stop being mad over. Tonight’s blown call should’ve made history. Armando Galaragga’s magic number should have been 21. See, baseball? It’s magical. The passion, the sounds, the smells, the respect, the love, everything that goes into the game is magical. A perfect game, a no hitter? They’re beyond magical. They’re a breathtaking feat that are so rare to see, it’s been miraculous that I’ve gotten to see three, technically four, in my baseball life.
Tonight that magic was stolen when Jim Joyce called Jason Donald safe. Jim Joyce’s apology? I respect the fact that he manned up and said, “yes, I made a mistake,” but that’s not going to change the record books. That’s not going to give Galaragga a perfect game. His apology doesn’t call Jason Donald out. The fact is, one of the most amazing and rare feats in baseball, a feat accomplished by only twenty before him, was within reach tonight. On one single mistake, one blind person’s error, his name won’t be found under “perfect games.”
So, what do you plan to do about this, Emily? That’s a good question. I don’t exactly know. I wouldn’t have any ideas. I’ll tell you right now that I’m not one who is on board for instant replays in baeball. In fact, I think if that were the case, too many things would be argued and it could become just a ridiculous circus. But it shows, aftera ll the umpiring mistakes this season, that they’re costing more than just games, they’re cositng us history.
Through all this, nothing made me more proud tonight than to see Armando Galaragga give a simple smile and go right back to work. He’s an incredible representation for his country and a class act. Even when Jim Joyce said, “I cost him that perfect game,” he went on his way and forgave him. You didn’t see Armando Galaragga acting like Carlos Zambrano, you saw him acting like an upstanding player.
So yes, I still believe in the church of baseball, and yes, I still think this is a magical game, and yes, my heart is still broken for the history that was lost tonight. But in my book, Armando Galaragga will ALWAYS be the 21st pitcher to pitch a perfect game, regardless of any asterisk inserted into any books, who will go on record as the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game, or what any blind umpire says. I witnessed history tonight, I got to witness an amazing and rare accomplishment, and I am so proud of Armando Galaragga, and damn proud to have witnessed his perfect game.