The Corner

re: Perfection

Readers who have emailed me are roughly split on whether baseball should fix the phony blemish on Galarraga’s more-than-perfect game. My view is that if Barry Bonds gets to have his home-run record without an asterisk, MLB can find a way to let Galarraga have a perfect game in the official books.

Here’s a well-stated alternative view:

Be careful of overreacting to the bad call tonight.  Umpires are the closest thing to blind justice that we have left in this country.  The fact that Joyce was willing to even call an out based entirely on the merits of the play and not on the emotional context says a lot about him and what makes baseball great and still deserving of our faith.  I’m afraid now there will be a greater push for instant reply, as though cold objectivity is (a) possible and (b) desirable.  I would rather have a blown call now and then than replace equality of opportunity with equality of outcomes.

Plus, attention should be paid to how manly everyone involved behaved:  Gallaraga accepted the decision and kept cool enough to finish the game; Leyland fought for his pitcher, and Joyce apologized in public and in person.  Class acts all around.  I’d like to see that happen in the NBA or the Tour de France.  This is a moment to appreciate, not condemn.

Another dissent:

Don’t agree with you on the perfect game either.  Blown calls are part of baseball.  If that not-really-a-hit “hit” came in the 1st inning, instead of the 9th, no one, including you, would be saying it was still a “Perfect Game”.  It is not, it is as close as one can get and the kid should be proud, but blown calls are part of baseball.  There is no crying about blown calls in baseball.

A longtime Detroit-based emailer has this to say:

Armando Galarraga is lucky in a way. Everyone will remember his 28 out perfect game. Who remembers the other 19 perfect games besides Don Larsen’s in the World Series?

Actually, the one I remember best was Milt Wilcox’s almost-perfect game in 1983. The Tigers pitcher had 26 outs and then gave up a hit. No blown call. I was a kid at the time and remember watching the game on a little black-and-white TV. I was beside myself in sorrow. The name “Hairston”–i.e., the batter who broke up the perfect game–is burned into my memory.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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