Given the alternative, why wouldn’t you want to be right? That’s the option facing Major League Baseball following what may have been the worst umpire’s call in history. But because of baseball and its traditions, this correctable error remains uncorrected.

With two outs in the ninth inning, and a ground ball hit to the right side, Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga took a throw from his first baseman and stepped on the bag just ahead of the runner, which should have resulted in the final out of the 21st perfect game in history.

A perfect game means a pitcher saw 27 batters and recorded 27 outs. No hits, no walks, no errors. But the umpire has to be on top of his game too. This time, he signaled the runner safe and let the game continue, forcing Galarraga to record the 28th consecutive out of a game instead of celebrating his feat. After the game, umpire Jim Joyce watched the video replay and acknowledged that he’d blown the call, but it was too late for him to do anything about it.

It is not too late for Commissioner Bud Selig, although he’s not using his power. In a statement issued Thursday, Selig said he would look at the incident in the larger context of expanding the use of instant replay.

But this once-in-a-lifetime case does not belong in that discussion. Changing this call won’t set a precedent, unless you are worried about precedents that apply only to blown calls on final outs of perfect games. How often does that happen?

The outcome of the game, the league standings and the final score would all be unchanged. The only difference would be that a deserving player’s statistics would be accurately recorded.

Baseball purists will argue that imperfect umpiring is one of the quirks that make the game so fun to watch. But who says you can’t have fun and be right too?

 


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