Who allowed Ed Hochuli on to the baseball diamond? Or was it Retro Night with Don Denkinger re-enacting the blown call that changed the 1985 World Series?

All I know is that Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched a perfect game on Wednesday night. Umpire Jim Joyce finally found a way for someone to remember his name forever by blowing a call at first base with out No. 27 on the line.

It wasn’t even a bang-bang call. It was an easy one by major-league umpire standards.

If you haven’t seen the play yet, it will make your stomach queasy when you see the replay showing Galarraga’s foot firmly on first base and Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians more than a half-step away from touching the base.

Joyce saw the replay after the game and admitted he blew the call.

My next thought: Time to find out if Bud Selig has a spine.

The baseball commissioner is weak and wimpy compared to most people who have risen to the post of being the leader of a professional sports league. Here is his chance to finally be bold and correct a major travesty.

Since Cleveland didn’t rally to win the game, there’s no reason not to reverse the call and right a wrong. This wasn’t some random call during a 13-1 trouncing, this was the final play of what should be recalled as the 21st perfect game in major-league history.

Galarraga knows he pitched a perfect game. The Cleveland Indians know he pitched a perfect game. You and I know he pitched a perfect game.

Something tells me even the normally clueless Selig can figure out Galarraga pitched a perfect game.

Actually, he did one better – he got 28 consecutive outs on Wednesday night.

Galarraga is a 28-year-old with 21 career wins. This was his one and only shot at doing something immortal. He had never even thrown a complete game in his previous 56 major-league starts.

His quest for perfection was saved earlier in the ninth inning by an amazing running over-the-shoulder catch by Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson in one of the better defensive plays you’ll ever see. Get that kind of help and you are usually destined to finish the job of securing a no-hitter or perfect game.

Instead, Jim Joyce was umpiring at first base. Donald hit a grounder between first and second and Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera ranged to his right to field the grounder and threw to Galarraga for the apparent historic final out.

Only Jim Joyce’s arms furiously flapped sideways with a safe call instead of the out signal.

That Joyce acknowledged after the game that he missed the call isn’t good enough (can you imagine how rudely he will be greeted when he takes the field in Detroit on Thursday?) This is the major leagues, not some Sunday softball league where half the players are intoxicated.

A major-league umpire can’t blow a call like this. At least not a competent one — which rules out Phil Cuzzi, who made an embarrassing call by calling Joe Mauer’s fair ball foul during the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees playoff series last October.

I immediately thought about disgraced former umpire Don Denkinger. He blew a call at first base in the ninth inning of Game 6 during the 1985 World Series in which St. Louis reliever Todd Worrell clearly beat Kansas City’s Jorge Orta to the bag.

Denkinger called Orta safe and the Royals ended up scoring twice in the inning to rally from behind and force a Game 7. Kansas City won the world title the next night by pounding Joaquin Andujar into submission.

In football, you have the botched call Hochuli made that took away a 2008 victory by the San Diego Chargers that gave the Denver Broncos another shot at winning and the Broncos left the premises with a 39-38 victory (yes, I know San Diego’s defense at least had the chance to stop Denver and couldn’t but the game was over until Hochuli messed up the call).

Of course, that wasn’t the situation when Jerry Markbreit messed up a call on the final play of a 1978 game between the Chargers and Oakland Raiders. That’s the play where Ken Stabler intentionally fumbled the ball forward as Chargers linebacker Woodrow Lowe was about to sack him and then Pete Banaszak knocked the ball further upfield and Dave Casper fell on the ball into the end zone to turn a six-point loss into a one-point victory.

Ironically, if the Chargers win that game, perhaps Tommy Prothro isn’t fired as coach a few weeks later and replaced by Don Coryell, who was a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the first time earlier this year.

Obviously, the worst blown call ever involved the 1972 Olympics basketball competition in which the Soviet Union defeated the United States. But hey, we all know there were politics involved in that disgrace and that there was nothing that the United States could do to change what transpired.

But Bud Selig could do something about what happened Wednesday night at Comerica Park in Detroit. Well, he could – if he had a spine.

  1. I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. blunder throughout all time. Bad calls happen. Sadly. They do. People have gotten mad about bad calls. Don Denkinger – A legendarily awful call, up there with Don Denkinger and Ed Hochuli.

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