It’s A Perfect … Ohhhhhhh

June 2

You can work well your entire life, but if you make a big mistake at the wrong time, you’re tagged forever. This is the fate of umpire Jim Joyce, who blew a call at first base that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game Wednesday night. To Joyce’s credit he owned up to the blunder — what else could he do? — but that’s small consolation to the Tigers.

Joyce made a bigger mistake — he failed to summon help from fellow umpires. Instead he took the heat from the Tigers, as well he should have. He could have defused the whole situation by parking his ego and consulting the rest of the crew. Instead his ego takes a beating. Bless his heart, he must be the sickest umpire in America.

There is no truth to the rumor that Joyce was a referee in the 1972 Olympics Gold Medal basketball game. He has never spoken to Alexander Belov, to my knowledge.

Get ready for more instant replay talk. And you know what ? The umpires brought it upon themselves.

I could definitely see it expanded to one call for each side per game … one call not involving a disputed foul or home run. The Cowboy Joe Wests of the world will never go for it, but I don’t give a cowpie what Mr. West thinks. I just want to get the call right.

It’s not like we’re asking umpires to take a pay cut.

***

I give Galarraga tremendous credit for the way he handled a heartbreaking situation. He went right back to the mound and induced a groundout to end the game. He should go straight down to the Detroit police station and report a robbery. Instead he handled everything with class.

Of course, Commissioner Bud Selig could reverse the call. I’m sure he’ll cite the old “slippery-slope” rule, but depriving Galarraga is a far worse offense. Some say a ruling would devalue the accomplishment, but I say it would set things right. I’m not betting the house on Selig sacking up, but it would be lovely if he did.

It is possible the official scorer could change the hit to an error, based on the possibility Galarraga juggled the ball, but that is splitting the baby. It’s a weak consolation prize, if a no-hitter could ever be one.

***

Pitching is back.

There have never been two perfect games in a season during the “modern era”, let alone three. There SHOULD be three. On top of that, Ubaldo Jimenez’s no-hitter on April 17th is almost forgotten. Jimenez is also putting up historic numbers for the first two months of the season.

Speaking of pitchers …

I direct your attention to our previous blog, when I said that while Tim Lincecum works through stuff it was time for Matt Cain to carry the load as the ace. I cited his one-hit shutout of the Diamondbacks last Friday, and he followed that up Wednesday night against the Rockies with eight solid innings in a 4-1 win. Before Lincecum came along, Cain was the young gun on the Giants staff, the kid who would be ace. He is capable of taking that next step.

Cain shut down two very good offenses in the last five days, albeit at AT and T Park, where 420-foot bombs go to die ( see Aubrey Huff Wednesday night ). But Cain was barely nicked as he showed tremendous command, throwing four different pitches for a strike. And that paralysis strike-three curveball on Ian Stewart should be used in all instructional videos.

Tim Lincecum is working through stuff. Ralph Barbieri says he’s worried. Four starts with at least five walks is a trend, but as long as Lincecum’s issues are nominally mechanical, I’m not going to worry. Yet.

***

I saw Ken Griffey, Jr. play ball in the California League at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield in 1988, when he played for San Bernardino. The buzz was already building about the 18-year-old phenom with major league skills. If you blinked, you missed him. He hit .338 in 58 games in the Cal League before moving up. A year later he was AL Rookie of the Year.

Griffey’s retirement was announced Wednesday, rather quietly but shockingly before the Mariners played the Twins. He will end his great big league career in the city where it started, Seattle. A few weeks ago, I said rather coldly that he was “done,” but baseball can become very cold for most 40-year-old players.

Few will remember that Griffey hit .184 his final season. The Griffey of the 1990’s will endure. He played the game at the highest level since Willie Mays. If not for injuries, he might have gone down as a greater player than Mays.

But it was his style of play that was his downfall. He thought nothing of diving for a ball or running into a fence or wall, and that put him on the disabled list numerous times. Even so, he ends up with 630 non-juiced ( we assume ) home runs, fifth all-time.

My son’s favorite player when he was a boy ? Kid, hands down. A Kid he was, in the joy he brought to the field. Kids know best. This really is just a game. Or it should be.

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One Response to “It’s A Perfect … Ohhhhhhh”

  1. Steve Taddei Says:

    I’m not worried about Lincecum. I just read the Willie Mays Bio. I was amazed at how much crap he took from the San Francisco Media and Giant Fans in the late ’50s and early 60’s when he would go into a slump.

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