Baseball fans don’t need Bud Selig to tell them what’s true.
I listened to my first perfect game in real time less than a week ago. It was an important—albeit shameful—experience in my life.
I turned on my radio at the top of the third inning as Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay chubbed up and sat the remaining twenty-one Marlins down.
As the twenty-seventh batter was retired—per the customs of my people (Philadelphians)—I rushed into the street shouting unprintable expletives and breaking the beer bottles I had nervously amassed during the game. Several of my neighbors shouted for me to “shut the fuck up – the Flyers ‘er on”, while others joined me in breaking stuff. And each other; two gentleman wearing tank tops and jean shorts emerged from the bar at the end of my block, beating the hell out of one another in what I can only imagine were spasms of chubbed-up-perfecto-joy.
I would not trade the memories of that evening for all the oil floating deep below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico. Well, maybe there is one thing I would trade it for.
Last night Armando Galarraga was screwed out of a perfect game. You know the story by now: a bad call by a good umpire ruined this young pitcher’s Kelly Clarkson moment.
Or did it?
Jim Joyce blew the call. Everyone knows he blew the call.
Galarraga pitched a perfect game, no matter how it was scored. In fact, he did something far more rare – he pitched a perfect game through twenty-eight batters, since he followed the controversial call by getting the next batter to ground out.
My boy Halladay only pitched a twenty-seven-batters-faced perfect game. How completely average.
Had the same thing happened to Roy and the Phillies last week, bottles would have still been broken, curses still yelled into the night sky, and bar fights would have still ensued.
But it would have had the stink of persecution upon it, and Philadelphians just love that smell (that and the smell of vomit). Roy Halladay would become Philadelphia’s new favorite cult hero (I can almost see the t-shirts now) instead of just a hero. Truth be told, I like the cult hero better.
Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game, and then some. In baseball, as in life, you sometimes get the shaft; it’s part of the reason I’m stunned to find myself half-agreeing with Commissioner Bud Selig, who announced today that he will not reverse Joyce’s call, but will look into expanding instant replay rules.
Regardless of the ruling, Galarraga and his teammates know what he accomplished. Tiger fans know what he accomplished. Every baseball fan on the planet knows what he accomplished, and the good people in Cooperstown are totally aware of what he accomplished. (As I write this, they are probably constructing the Armando Galarraga Controversy Corner, complete with life size, black and white photos of Jim Joyce’s tear-filled apology and Jason Donald’s left cleat.) That knowledge should be good enough.
Have we come to cherish, to need, the gold star so much that we need it to validate what we already know? Because we all know that was a perfect game.
The truth doesn’t need Selig’s stamp of approval to make it any more true.