2 Stories of Near Perfection…Armando Galarraga and Ken Griffey Jr.

Yesterday was a huge day for Major League Baseball, as we saw an almost perfect game and an almost perfect player retire.

Travesty in Detroit
I didn’t get to watch the game between the Tigers and Indians, but the Cardinals radio broadcasters were pretty much calling that game too. I pulled up to a used-CD store and couldn’t get out, since Armando Galarraga was at 8 2/3 innings of perfect baseball. Jason Donald was at the plate and gets an infield single. I thought that was a horrible way to end the bid for a perfect game. Really, an infield single?

So, I went about my business. While I’m about to check out with a couple of new comics (yes, the used CD store sells comics), my brother calls me:

Brother: You haven’t seen baseball highlights yet, have you?

Me: No, but I was listening to the Cardinal game and they were pretty much calling the perfect game.

Brother: The hitter was out by a mile. The ump blew the call.

Me: What?

Brother: Yeah, the ump made the wrong call.

I ended up seeing the highlights (by making my wife stop watching whatever cooking show she had found) and I couldn’t believe the call. How do you miss that call? How do you not side with the pitcher when he’s within inches of history? Especially when it’s the home team pitcher?

Now, I’m not saying that home field advantage, history, or anything else should influence a call; but in this circumstance, the tie should go to the fielder.

This will also bring up the topic of re-play; while I think re-play should stay out of baseball, I think they could have reviewed this circumstance. In instances where history is involved, why not allow it?

Just a few points about perfect games – this is the first season in baseball history that there have been more than 1 perfect game. This game would have been the first perfect game at Comerica Park.

Now, with the fact that we have 2 perfect game and one more that should have been, what’s up with hitting? Have the hitters lack of steroids and greenies caught up with them? That’s one possibility. There is also the fact that teams are being more cautious with pitching that we are starting to see the benefit of pitch counts, limited innings, and siding on the side of caution. One of the perfect games this year was pitched by a younger player (Braden is 26; Halladay is 33). Ubaldo Jimenez, who is probably the best pitcher in the game right now, is 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA with a no-hitter; he’s only 26 also. If you look at the top 3 of league leaders, they are loaded with young pitchers:
ERA Leaders – David Price, Doug Fister, Jimenez, Jaime Garcia
Win Leaders – David Price, Clay Buchholz, Phil Hughes, Jimenez, Mike Pelfrey
K Leaders – Ricky Romero, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo

Back to Galarraga, the MLB needs to do something. I would love for them to rule that his perfect game stands. I would love for Jason Donald to call for that, along with the umpire crew. In reality, that won’t happen. Galarraga will get screwed on this one. He’ll be remembered for being close to perfect.

Junior Hangs it Up
Ken Griffey Jr. was supposed to be the perfect player. He was incredible defensively. He could hit like no one else. He was expected to be the one who broke home run records. Instead, he broke his body.

Griffey was an icon in the game. From the minute he hit the field for the Mariners, every kid wanted to be him.

Once he left Seattle, he was a different player; he was an injured player. I think there was no other player in baseball that was the poster child for the saying “Just imagine if he were healthy.”

Now that health question will be tied to the question of the era – did he do steroids? It’s really ard to say. He wasn’t super big, but the way his body failed on him this decade makes you question why. I’m of the opinion that he didn’t do them and that he was just unlucky once he left Seattle (some might say it was Karma).

Griffey hangs it up after 22 years. He finishes 5th in home runs (it’ll be 6th in another couple of season, as A-Rod is only 40 behind him). He was 219 hits away from 3000, which probably wasn’t achievable at this point.

Griffey will stay with the Mariners in the front office.

Here’s to Griffey, a true champion of the game.

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