Armando Galarraga's blown perfect game is just one example of a horrible call affecting a game. So to honor every sports fan's favorite target for mockery, we present the top officiating blunders of all time.
Galarraga's blown perfect game
On the final out to complete the Detroit Tigers first ever perfect game, a call was butchered by the first base umpire. Armando Galarraga covered first base with the ball in hand and foot on the bag, but umpire Jim Joyce signaled that the runner was safe.
France desperately needed a goal to move on to the 2010 World Cup and in extra time against Ireland, that's exactly what they got. Sort of. Sure, it was a goal, but the play was only saved by French player Thierry Henry using his hand to keep the ball in play. Yes, his hand. Yes, that's illegal in soccer. And yes, the refs totally blew the call. Sacre bleu!
Spreading the blame
The heavily contested Week 11 game between the Chargers and Steelers came down to a field goal by Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed with under 10 seconds left. After the ensuing kickoff, the Chargers had time for one final miracle play -- which turned into a game-sealing nightmare. After two successful laterals, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu picked off the final lateral attempt and raced into the end zone as the clock struck :00. By rule, Reed should have then lined up for the PAT and a possible 18-10 final score. However, after first consulting instant replay and correctly allowing the play to stand, officials on the field conferred again ... with head referee Scott Green incorrectly calling the play dead at the point at which the last lateral touched the ground as Polamalu scooped up the ball. While this did not affect the outcome, it did affect approximately $100 million in gambling dollars bet on the game in Las Vegas sports books -- with approximately $64 million bet on the Steelers.
Robbed at the '88 Seoul Olympics
This should have been Roy Jones Jr.'s pose at the end of the gold medal bout. Jones pummeled his South Korean foe, Park Si-Hun, for three rounds, landing 86 punches while only absorbing 32. Somehow, Jones still lost the fight 3-2. Park, realizing the injustice, even apologized to him. All three judges that voted against Jones were later suspended, and an IOC investigation later found that three of the judges were wined and dined by Korean officials. But Jones remains the 1988 Olympic silver medalist.
You aren't much of a baseball fan if you've never seen the highlight: George Brett racing from his dugout, his eyes bulging, his teammates restraining him. Home-plate umpire Tim McClelland was the well-deserved object of Brett's wrath after he overturned a potential game-winning two-run homer by Brett on July 24, 1983 following Yankees manager Billy Martin's complaint that the amount of pine tar on Brett's bat was excessive. Justice prevailed, however, as AL president Lee MacPhail ruled that the bat did not violate the spirit of the rule and ordered the game replayed from the point following Brett's home run.
Apparently, France really loves its ice dancing. In order to help its ice dancers during the 2002 Winter Olympics, the French judge in the pairs' competition favored Russia's Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze over Canada's Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in exchange for their "judical help" later on. The French judge later confessed -- allegedly -- that she was pressured to do it in order to help the French ice dancers, but never officially admitted guilt. In the end, the International Olympic Committee upgraded Canada's silver to a gold and held a second medals ceremony with both the Canadian and Russian flags hanging together.
Stroke of Luckett
You may not blame NFL referee Phil Luckett (pictured) for what happened on Thanksgiving Day 1998, but his miscommunication with Jerome Bettis will never be forgotten. Before overtime of the Steelers-Lions game that day, Bettis called the ever-crucial coin flip "tails." The coin came up tails but Luckett insisted that Bettis had called heads. Microphone enhancements later revealed the Bettis started to call heads before stopping mid-word and going with tails, exposing a hazy interpretation of the rule. The Lions got the ball and scored a field goal on their opening possession, winning the game.
To most football fans, criticizing NFL officials is a national pasttime. But one referee -- ripped due to bulging biceps, not botched calls -- never seemed to draw the fans' ire: Ed Hochuli. No longer is that the case. Late in the fourth quarter of a critical AFC West matchup in Week 2 this season, the Broncos trailed the Chargers 38-31 when Denver QB Jay Cutler inexplicably dropped the ball as he was attempting to pass. The clear fumble was recovered by San Diego, and the game was essentially over. But Hochuli awarded the ball back to Denver and announced, almost apologetically, that he had blown the play dead prematurely. By league rule, the Broncos kept the ball, and went on to score the game-winning TD and two-point conversion.
Math is hard
How hard is it to flip a number on a down marker? Apparently, very. In 1990, the Colorado Buffaloes beat the Missouri Tigers by scoring a touchdown on their fifth down. Yeah, their fifth down. It turned out the officiating crew forgot to flip the down marker after the Buffaloes' second attempt, "giving" the team an extra shot. After the Buffaloes spiked two balls and ran two plays, QB Charles Johnson scored the TD to give the team a 33-31 win in Columbia.
Nice job, kid
With the host Yankees trailing the O's 4-3 in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, Derek Jeter hit a fly ball to right that Baltimore outfielder Tony Tarasco appeared to have a bead on. That is, until 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the outfield fence and snared the ball. Umpire Rich Garcia ruled it a home run, earning the permanent ire of O's fans and turning Maier into a minor celebrity in New York.
Game 6, triple overtime. All the Dallas Stars had to do was score a goal to win the Stanley Cup in 1999, which is exactly what they got from Brett Hull...with his foot in the crease. The NHL said it was legal because he had possession of the puck before making the shot on goalie Dominik Hasek. Many Buffalo Sabres fans still disagree.
Any blunder is magnified on a sport's biggest stage. In Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, umpire Don Denkinger (pictured, at left) made a call that has lived in infamy for baseball fans worldwide -- especially in Missouri. With the Cardinals leading the series 3-2 and in front 1-0 in the ninth inning of Game 6, the Royals' Jorge Orta (pictured, running) hit a weak grounder to first baseman Jack Clark, who flipped the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell (pictured, on bag) at the bag. Orta was out by a half-step but Denkinger called him safe, igniting a St. Louis meltdown. The Royals won the game on a two-run single five batters later and went on to take the series in seven games.
Long before the Dream Team, a group of U.S. collegians suffered a nightmare at the '72 Olympics. Up 50-49 over the Soviet Union with three seconds remaining, the Americans watched in horror as the Russians were given three attempts (the final one coming courtesy of a bizarre intervention by FIBA secretary general R. William Jones) to connect on a winning shot. The third time proved to be the charm for the Soviets, who ended the Americans' perfect 63-0 record in Olympic play. But there was nothing charming about the series of official decisions that ended that run.
Hand of God
Sometimes even what refs don't do will get them in trouble. In the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup, Argentina and England were locked in a 0-0 tie early in the second half when one of sports' most memorable controversies arose. Argentina star Diego Maradona (pictured, left) charged after a misplayed ball that was floating in the air near the English net. Goalkeeper Peter Shilton -- eight inches taller than Maradona -- came out to play the ball. As the ball came down, Maradona jumped and knocked in a goal with his left hand that went unnoticed by the referees. Argentina took a 1-0 lead on the play that would soon be dubbed 'The Hand of God' goal and went on to win 2-1 on the way to its second World Cup title.