This post is being written in a fit of injustice. Last night, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers, backed up by a solid and at times sparkling defense, threw a perfect game. Well, it was only imperfect in one respect — the first-base umpire blew what should have been the final call of the game, signaling a hitter safe when both live-action and replayed film showed clearly that the player was out.
Galarraga remained poised, and the next batter hit into a 5-3 final out, ending the game.
From a purely objective point of view, Gallaraga threw a perfect game. It was demonstrably perfect. It would survive peer-review. No batter reached base without striking out or being thrown out. Twenty-seven at-bat attempts, and all twenty-seven were unsuccessful.
By all measures, it was a perfect game.
But one single reviewer — the first-base umpire — rejected it. His botched call “stole” the perfect game from Gallaraga.
Baseball should have learned this lesson long ago — more than one peer-reviewer is sometimes necessary. In this case, instant replay would have resolved the situation correctly.
Now, the only recourse is a retraction.
Can the baseball culture bring itself to restore the perfect game? Will the clear evidence that the penultimate out (as it now stands) was actually the final out prove decisive? Will rational reflection trump man-made rules for a game of conceits and fabrications?
Can a ray of rationality penetrate the mystique of baseball?
Throwing a no-hitter is a major accomplishment for a baseball pitcher. Throwing a perfect game is an order of magnitude more impressive. To have this pinnacle of athletic control, nerves, endurance, and ability stolen without recourse and calm post-hoc reflection would be a huge injustice.
Only in that way can the game of baseball truly have a chance of being perfected.