Players of the Day for Wednesday, June 2, 2010 American League Armando Galarraga was robbed. The fans were robbed. Baseball was robbed. When umpire Jim Joyce made what is likely the most egregious blown call in the long, storied history of baseball, possibly in all of sport, he upset millions of people. Americans can endure a lot of pain and suffering. We've fought wars, seen young men and women die in defense of our nation's principles. We lived through the long pain of the Great Depression, Civil War, the horror of 9/11 and even today, as the BP oil gusher continues to spew into the Gulf of Mexico and despoil our precious wetlands, we endure. But don't mess with baseball, especially baseball history. When Galarraga raced to first base to collect the throw from Miguel Cabrera, the ball was in his glove as his foot touched the bag before that of runner Jason Donald, the game was over. Twenty-seven straight went down in Galarraga's perfect game, but Jim Joyce blew the call. In football, the play would have been reviewed and reversed. Tennis players have the right to review and reverse line calls. Joyce's blown call needs to be reviewed, reversed, the official stats of of the game altered to reflect the correct conclusion. Donald was out. Galarraga retired 27 straight. Trevor Crowe's at-bat - which ended the game as he grounded harmlessly to third - should disappear from the records as though it never happened, because it shouldn't have. Sadly, There are no solutions to reverse Joyce's bad call. Manager Jim Leland, who was surprisingly conciliatory toward Joyce and the entire incident, could not protest the game. In baseball's antiquated rule nomenclature, specifically, rule 4.19 [PDF], on protesting games, in which it says, "No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the umpire. In all protested games, the decision of the League President shall be final." Joyce's call was a judgment decision, thus, according to the rules, the protest would not be permitted by the league president. Were a protest allowed, at least Galarraga would have a chance to pitch to Donald again and claim his rightful place in baseball history. Rule 10.01 (b)(3) [PDF] requires that the game be replayed from the point of the protest with exactly the same situation as existed before the protested play. Rule 9.02 (a) also serves to perpetuate the "sanctity" of the umpire, saying, "Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions." That rule needs to be stricken from the book, or at least amended. Umpires are human, and thus, prone to error. Giving them absolute authority in matters of judgment, especially in an age in which everything is televised, scrutinized and criticized, baseball leaves itself open to scorn and ridicule. It's time for a change. Detroit won the tarnished affair, 3-0. Galarraga will be officially credited with a one-hitter, in itself a notable accomplishment. It should be different. It should be a perfect game, the third of this season and 4th no-hitter this year. But it's not, thanks to the antiquated thinking of the people who run major league baseball and write the rules for same. Remember, these are the same bunch of folks who won't allow Pete Rose, the all-time leader in hits, along with records in a slew of other categories, to enter the Hall of Fame. Well, Americans have endured that travesty for a couple of decades now. Baseball supposes we should endure even more. It's ridiculous. Baseball needs to change, and change soon. National League It took the Padres 11 innings to dispose of the Mets and finish heir three-game series by winning two of the games, but Adrian Gonzalez made sure to leave a lasting impression, finishing the contest with a walk-off, grand slam homer for a 4-1 Padres' win. The win kept the padres in first place in the NL West, with a slender one-game lead over the Dodgers, who have won their last four straight. San Diego continues to defy expectations, as do the division-leaders in the East (Atlanta) and the Central (Cincinnati is tied with St. Louis for first place). The homer by Gonzalez was his 10th of the year, and the added 4 RBI brought his total to 32. He also singled twice and doubled, giving him a 4-for-6 night at the plate, on a night in which base hits were in pretty short supply.
Farewell to the Kid: Citing a lack of playing time causing a distraction to his teammates, ever-classy Ken Griffey Jr. abruptly hung up the spikes on Wednesday, putting to rest one of the most remarkable careers in baseball history.
Suitably, Griffey finished where he started, in Seattle, where he spent the first eleven years of his career, 1989-1999, knocking balls out of the park and running down flies in center field with reckless abandon and joy. Griffey spent the next nine years with the Reds, finally being traded to the White Sox near the end of the 2008 season. In Cincinnati, Griffey's career took various turns for the worse, suffering injury upon injury, especially from 2002-2004, playing in just 206 games in those three seasons combined. In 2009 and 2010 he played in Seattle.
The injuries slowed Griffey's assault on the record books considerably. Barring injuries, he was a cinch to hit 700 homers, but sport can be cruel to even the best, though Griffey should have few regrets, finishing his career with stats worthy of a certain first-round induction to the Hall of Fame.
For the record, Griffey's lifetime stats are: 2671 games, 9801 at-bats, 1662 runs, 2781 hits, 5271 total bases, 524 doubles, 38 triples, 630 home runs, 1836 RBI, 1312 walks (246 intentional), 184 stolen bases, a lifetime bating average of .284, on base percentage of .370 and a .538 slugging percentage.
Griffey ranks 5th all-time in homers and 14th in RBI. A 12-time All-Star, Griffey led the AL in homers four times and was the 1997 American League MVP.
Griffey will always be remembered for his unbridled enthusiasm and joy for playing the game, and the smile that brightened every major league ball park.
It's been fun, kid. see you in Cooperstown.