Polls say the vast majority of baseball fans wanted Commissioner Bug Selig to over-rule umpire Jim Joyce after the fact and award Armando Galarraga a perfect game. The point of view is purely emotional, and as an ad hoc break with the rules, traditions and practices of the game would be so devastating to baseball’s integrity that I did not expect anyone outside the sport to adopt it. I was very wrong about that. Ex-pitcher, ESPN commentator and blogger Curt Schilling and Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jon Heyman were just a few of the voices calling for Bud to announce that Joyce’s epic mistake, among the thousands and thousands of terrible judgment calls by umpires in the game’s history, should be the one that is changed after the game is over.
But an ex-pitcher who threw a no-hitter himself, Milt Pappas, did us all a favor by showing the ethics wilderness this kind of thinking can cause to sprout overnight. First, Pappas wistfully suggests that if Galarraga’s lost perfect game can be saved by Selig, maybe his 38-year-old not-quite-perfect no-hitter can be similarly burnished. Pappas also believes that a perfect game is so important, umpires should consciously try to one along. if I interpret his “logic” properly, he thinks that on Joyce’s erroneous call the umpire should have called the runner “out” on a close call even if he was safe. Continue reading