Baseball

Selig won't overturn bad call nixing perfect game

MLB commissioner Bud Selig said on Thursday that the controversial call that robbed Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game will not be overturned, but said the expanded use of instant replay will be considered.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said on Thursday  the controversial call that robbed Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game will not be overturned, but the expanded use of instant replay will be considered.

"While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed," Selig said in a statement, a full transcript of which appears below. "Given last night's call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features."

Selig said he would consult with the unions representing the players and umpires on the matter.

Umpire Jim Joyce receives Detroit's lineup card from Armando Galarraga, one day after his first- base call cost the Tigers pitcher a perfect game. ((Paul Sancya/Associated Press))

Umpire Jim Joyce wiped away tears as he took the field at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon in Detroit, a day after his blown call.

Joyce and Galarraga met at home plate as the pitcher presented the umpire with the Tigers' lineup card for the game against the Cleveland Indians. Joyce shook hands with Galarraga and patted him on the shoulder.

There were some cheers when Joyce appeared, but a smattering of boos when he was introduced. Detroit would score the last seven runs for a 12-6 victory in the finale.

The contentious play on Wednesday night came with two outs in the ninth inning. Joyce ruled Cleveland's Jason Donald safe, then admitted he got it wrong and tearfully apologized in person to the pitcher.

Joyce showed up to work Thursday looking as if he hadn't slept. He appreciated the outpouring of support from umpires, family and friends, but lamented strangers lashing out at his wife and children.

"I wish my family was out of this," Joyce said, holding back tears as he spoke nearly two hours before the series finale. "I wish they would direct it all to me. It's a big problem. My wife is a rock. My kids are very strong. They don't deserve this."

Galarraga gets sympathy votes

Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's governor, issued a proclamation on Thursday that says Galarraga pitched a perfect game against Cleveland, despite an umpire's blown call.

Unaware of Selig's statement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said: "I hope that baseball awards a perfect game to that pitcher."

General Motors presented the Venezuelan pitcher with a 2010 Corvette convertible before the start of Thursday's home game against the Indians.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said MLB gave Joyce the option to not work Thursday's game, but Joyce chose to stick with his job behind the plate. Leyland added that Galarraga would present the lineup card and shake hands with Joyce at home plate before the afternoon game.

The instantly infamous play, which had social networking sites all abuzz, will add to the argument that baseball needs to expand its use of replays. As of now, they can be used only for questionable home runs.

Joyce asked for a chance to apologize after the Tigers beat the Indians 3-0.

"You don't see an umpire after the game come out and say, 'Hey, let me tell you I'm sorry,"' Galarraga said. "He felt really bad. He didn't even shower."

Bud Selig, seen in May, said in a statement he'll consider the expanded use of instant replay for disputed plays. ((Mary Altaffer/Associated Press))

Galarraga, who was barely known outside of Detroit a day ago, and Joyce, whose career had flourished in relative anonymity, quickly became trending topics on Twitter. At least one anti-Joyce Facebook page was created shortly after the game ended and firejimjoyce.com was launched.

Don Denkinger didn't have to deal with the wrath of fans on Twitter or Facebook. Denkinger helped tilt the 1985 World Series by blowing a call as a first base umpire, and that followed him throughout his career.

Joyce has been calling balls and strikes and deciding if runners are out or safe as a full-time major league umpire since 1989. He has been respected enough to be on the field for two World Series, 11 other playoff series and a pair of All-Star games.

Joyce emphatically signaled safe when Cleveland's Jason Donald clearly didn't beat a throw to first base for what would've been the last out, setting off a chorus of groans and boos that echoed in Comerica Park.

Donald hit a grounder in the hole between first and second, Miguel Cabrera fielded it and threw to first, where Galarraga caught the ball at least a step ahead of Donald, replays showed.

Cabrera said he didn't want to talk about it and Donald answered questions from reporters after a long soak in the tub.

 "I didn't know if I beat the throw or not," Donald said. "But given the circumstances, I thought for sure I'd be called out."

Chuck Klonke, the official scorer Wednesday night with nearly three decades of experience, said he would not change the disputed play to an error from a hit to give Galarraga a no-hitter.

"I looked at the replay right after it happened, and Miguel Cabrera made a good throw and Galarraga didn't miss the bag so you couldn't do anything but call it a hit," Klonke said Thursday morning. "I watched the replay from the center-field camera, which some people thought showed Galarraga might've bobbled the ball, and I didn't see it that way at all. I have 24 hours to change a call, but I wouldn't consider it. End of story."

Not quite.

The story has transcended sports, becoming a topic on NBC's Today show Thursday morning and among parents dropping off their kids at the bus stop.

It's rare for an umpire to acknowledge a mistake in one of the few sports that relies heavily on the human eye, but Joyce did to reporters and later to Galarraga.

"It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it," Joyce said, looking and sounding distraught as he paced in the umpires' locker room. "I just cost that kid a perfect game."

Leyland was livid during the game when he charged out of the dugout to argue the call and got in another heated discussion with Joyce after the final out.

Later, though, Leyland tried to give Joyce a break.

"The players are human, the umpires are human, the managers are human," Leyland said.

Galarraga's effort would have been the third perfect game in the majors in 24 days.There has never been three in a season, and the last time until Saturday that there had been two was in 1880. Philadelphia's Roy Halladay pitched the second perfect game of 2010, with Oakland's Dallas Braden performing the feat in early May.

Selig statement

First, on behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Armando Galarraga on a remarkable pitching performance. All of us who love the game appreciate the historic nature of his effort last night.

The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order. Armando and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation. I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim's candour illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989.

As Jim Joyce said in his post-game comments, there is no dispute that last night's game should have ended differently. While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed. Given last night's call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features.

Before I announce any decisions, I will consult with all appropriate parties, including our two unions and the Special Committee for On-Field Matters, which consists of field managers, general managers, club owners and presidents.