Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig didn’t change the incorrect call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game, but he did vow to consider the expanded use of instant replay after a series of umpiring controversies in recent weeks.
Galarraga lost his bid with two out in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians, when umpire Jim Joyce ruled that Jason Donald had reached base safely on a ground ball to the right side. Joyce subsequently admitted that he was wrong.
Selig didn’t explicitly rule out the possibility that he would reverse the call. But it seemed that Thursday would have been the time to make such a decision. A future change seems unlikely. One MLB source said there is "no chance" that Selig will change his mind in the future.
So, to fans in Detroit, it was a 28-out perfect game.
In the record books, for now, it is a one-hit shutout.
“As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night’s game should have ended differently,” Selig said in a statement. “While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed.
“Given last night’s call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features.”
Selig added that he will consult with the players’ and umpires’ unions before announcing “any decisions.” He will also meet with baseball’s Special Committee for On-Field Matters — of which Tigers manager Jim Leyland is a member.
When asked earlier Thursday if he would like for Selig to award him with a perfect game after the fact, Galarraga replied, “I’d love it.”
“The more important thing is, for my heart, I knew I threw a perfect game,” the right-hander said.
Joyce didn’t offer an opinion earlier Thursday when asked about the possibility of Selig reversing his call. But such a decision might have eased the umpire’s conscience. Joyce was inconsolable on Wednesday night in the aftermath of his mistake, and he became emotional on several occasions Thursday.
“I took a perfect game away from that kid over there,” he said Wednesday.
By the time Joyce arrived at Comerica Park on Thursday morning, some fan reaction had turned hostile. (However, Sports by Brooks reports that it might be a lot more than just hostility.)
Joyce indicated in a brief interview with reporters that his family had been targeted. MLB officials wouldn’t confirm whether any specific threats of harm had been made.
“I wish my family was out of this,” Joyce said, still teary-eyed some 12 hours later. “I wish they would just direct it all to me.
“My wife is a rock. My kids are very strong. But they don’t deserve this. I’ll take it. I’ll take it. I’ll take whatever you can give me. I’ll handle it like a man. And I’ll do the best I can.”
Joyce didn’t specify what “it” was, but he said, “It’s a big problem.”
But Galarraga and the Tigers bear no grudge. Galarraga forgave Joyce immediately, and Leyland expressed hope that Detroit fans would applaud the umpiring crew on Thursday.
The umpires didn’t get an ovation, but the afternoon crowd was civil.
Selig’s statement praised the Tigers for their “dignity and class,” saying the organization’s conduct was “admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order.” Galarraga was honored Thursday in a pregame ceremony in which Chevrolet presented him with a cherry red Corvette convertible.
Galarraga, who began the season in the minor leagues, has handled his newfound notoriety as gracefully as he did Wednesday’s disappointment. He didn’t call for the expansion of instant replay when he met with a large group of reporters on Thursday.
The Late Show with David Letterman has already requested an interview, one source said, but it’s unclear if the team’s schedule will permit Galarraga to accept the offer. He slept only two hours on Wednesday night.
“My dad said something that really (calmed me) down,” the 28-year-old said. “He said, ‘Son, I’m proud of you. I know you threw a perfect game. Keep the ball. Make sure to keep the CD.’”
Joyce is behind the plate for Thursday afternoon’s game between the Tigers and Indians. He needed an extra moment or two to compose himself before entering the field via the tunnel behind home plate at 1 p.m. ET.
Fans close to the tunnel applauded as the crew took the field. The cheers continued as Galarraga, bearing the lineup card, shook hands with Joyce.
But when Joyce’s name was announced over the public address system, some boos were heard.
Earlier, Galarraga said he hoped Detroit fans will forgive Joyce.
“I say many times: Nobody’s perfect,” Galarraga said. “Everybody makes a mistake. I’m sure he don’t want to make that call. You see that guy last night, he feels really bad. He don’t even change. The other umpires shower, eat. He was sitting in the seat (and saying), ‘I’m so sorry.’"