Almost Perfect

June 3, 2010

Well I was all ready to write a nice blog about the great time my son and I had at the 14 inning Dodger game yesterday, but Jim Joyce had to go and screw it all up.  Now I’ve got to weigh in on Armando Galarraga’s perfect, I mean, complete game.

Where do I even start? First off, I want to say that Jim Joyce is one of the best umpires in the game. Definitely one of my favorite guys to work in front of. I say this because he’s technically good (gets the right call most of the time) and because he’s actually a human being. What I mean by that is, Jim, unlike many umps, had no problem communicating. He’d admit when he messed up (just like he admirably did yesterday) and you could discuss things with him without any ego weirdness. The guy is good and a benefit to the game.

Unfortunately Jim’s human and he missed the call. For me, that’s life. And for me, that’s baseball. Things are rarely perfect in either one. Things are messy, people make mistakes, it’s unfair, it’s fair, it’s line outs and fans reaching over the fence to rob you of a homer. It’s the wind blowing just at the right moment to help your ball stay fair. It’s unpredictable and I like it like that.

Maybe I’m getting old and falling behind. Maybe progress in the game means instant replay. Maybe it’s because I live in Southern California and if I see another thing get sterilized, gentrified,”perfected”, Disneylandized, Irvinized, I’m gonna puke. Give me some funk. Give me mistakes. More 1970’s New York, less Irvine. I say let’s just accept baseball as one thing in life that isn’t perfect and get on with it.

Realistically, how are you gonna do it? Where do we draw the line? Do we let the official scorers have access to instant replay? After all, they’re just as responsible as anyone in a no-hitter or perfecto. Do we instant replay pitches? After all, one ball called a strike or visa versa can easily decide a game.

I think it’s obvious that it’s literally impossible to make every call from every person involved “right.” Impossible. No matter what route we go, the games still gonna be messy. It’s gonna be imperfect and that’s reality.

The call.

That being said, maybe there can be a compromise. Maybe instant replay on the things that Selig has OK’d…fair or foul homers, did the ball actually clear the fence, and fan interference. Plus, maybe throw in an option for the manager to review one play during the game. I think I could live with that. But please no more.

The talented (but human) Jim Joyce.

I may be contradicting myself, but here’s another concession I’ll make to the perfect people out there. I’m alright with a little grey area now and then. And this circumstance (Galarraga’s almost perfecto) is definitely grey. For this situation, since it was the last out of the game, since the career of Jim Joyce hangs on it, since there’s only been 19 (20?) of these things in the history of baseball, let’s go ahead and make it right. What I’m saying is, if I was Bud Selig, I’d step in and overturn the call.

I bet if Joe West was the commish, he would’ve already done it…not to make things right, but just to get his mug in the paper. Sure, by reversing the call you’re gonna ruffle the feathers of some purists (like me). But I don’t think you’ll hear Jim complain, or Armando, or the fans of Detroit. Go ahead, do it.

That’s all I’ve got on that subject. Now for a quick recap of our father son day at Dodger stadium. Great seats (club level, cushy seats, super clean, nobody standing in front of you, shady, great view). My son ate 2 dodger dogs, me nachos. Ed Jackson throwing 97 mph in the 9th. Diamondbacks offensively anemic . 14 innings. Sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”….twice. Everybody in the stadium ended up getting a foul ball at some point during the marathon. All in all a fantastic time at the ballpark and excellent bonding opportunity.

My son at the top of Dodger stadium.

3 Responses to “Almost Perfect”

  1. Fran Solomita says:

    hey brent. terrific piece on this controversy! and my boys and i are enjoying your book!

    be well
    -Fran

  2. Kathi Willkomm says:

    YAHOOOO I KNEW YOU WOULD HELP ME MAKE SENSE OF THIS. Thanks so much! And by the way, I’m cracking up thinking of what you said about not going to many games since you’ve retired, this your first one this season, and it ends up 14 innings. Your tweets were hilarious yesterday, “Tell my family I loved them…” HAHAHAHAHA. You are as great and funny a writer as you are a catcher!

  3. Bryan says:

    Great post. Baseball has such a hold on America because it reflects American life. Otherwise, it’s football, and God forbid if that sport accurately reflects Us. Life and baseball are not tidy or neat. Sure, they might occasionally be perfect. They’re also frequently disappointing. In the end, it’s not a perfect world. But if the after-events of yesterday are any indication, baseball and life can surprisingly still be filled with class and grace.

    Disagree with your concession to overturn the end result, but great argument in support of our Grand Old Game.

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