It will be “The Galarraga Game”

Rotten as the bizarre finish to Armando Galarraga’s imperfect game was, there is this to consider: by not being credited with a perfect game, Galarraga will very likely be better remembered decades from now than if that play had been (correctly) called as out.

The best historical comparable to this circumstance is that of Harvey Haddix, and his celebrated non-achievement of May 26, 1959, a game which has ever since been familiar to nearly every serious fan as, simply, “The Harvey Haddix Game.” That game and that pitcher gained far more permanent prominence because of the heartbreaking outcome than if it had been a successfully completed, actual, garden variety perfect game.

So though it’s no doubt cold comfort to him, Armando Galarraga, an otherwise forgettable journeyman pitcher, will almost certainly find his name being uttered by fans a very long time from now, as they shake their heads over the amazing “Armando Galarraga Game.” He will be known forever to a degree that, say, Dallas Braden won’t.

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  1. InnocentBystander said...

    I like your take on this and hope you’re right. I think that legacy has the best chance if this spurs MLB to move forward with instant review.

  2. Devon Young said...

    Very true.

    (Note: It’s very irritating hearing people call this an “imperfect game” or “near perfect game”, when everybody saw it was perfect.)

  3. Steve Brosemer said...

    Excellent point about Harvey Haddix, although it is not quite an “apples to apples” analogy, but close enough for a point well taken.  I had the 1960 statistics Strat-o-matic game. Me and my dice always rooted for the Pirates, partially because of that game that made quite an impression on me back then. wink

  4. Jim C said...

    I disagree somewhat. If the Pirates had scored in the top of the 12th, and Haddix had finished with a 12-inning perfect game win, everyone would look at that game now as the best game ever pitched, with virtually no argument. The fact that he lost the perfect game, the no-hitter, the shutout, and the game in a matter of moments makes it sad, and somewhat lessens the accomplishment, but adds to the story. For Galarraga, this will probably be his career high point, and it’s a shame he lost it due to umpire incomptence. The only good that can come of it is if it brings on a comprehensive replay system, to deliver us from mistakes like this, and all of those hideous blunders in last year’s playoffs and World Series.

  5. Bob Sanchez said...

    How many people are still talking about Milt Pappas?  This only remains in history if it finally pushes MLB over the brink toward instant replay.

  6. Steve Treder said...

    Well, Milt Pappas is still talking about Milt Pappas, but then he never stopped.  grin

    Point taken, but I think there’s a meaningful difference between the situations.  For one thing, a ball/strike call is just a different thing than a blown first base putout call, particularly one that (with the benefit of replay) wasn’t even all that close.

    Second, Pappas was already a well-known player before his not-quite-perfecto; he’d been in the majors for 15 years, had been an All-Star, and had been infamously traded for Frank Robinson.  Pappas is fairly well remembered today for the totality of his substantial career; the imperfect game in his case is a footnote.

    Galarraga is nothing like that; he’s a workaday journeyman, which only adds to the poignancy of his near-miss.  The notoriety surrounding this event is far greater than it would have been if Joyce had gotten the call right; how many casual fans today know that Mike Witt or Tom Browning threw a perfect game, or have even heard of them, and both were far better pitchers than Galarraga.

  7. Matthew Desmond said...

    I dunno. It’s different, now. Full disclosure: I’m a Tigers fan. (I didn’t watch that game, or I wouldn’t be writing this, since I’d have jumped off my fire escape.) But it’s really been something to see, the way this thing has seized people’s imagination. It’s got this whole Greek Tragedy thing going for it; it’s really compelling. There aren’t even any villains—that poor stupid bastard blew the call, but it DESTROYED him. He was a complete emotional wreck within minutes. How’s he ever going to be the same? And Galarraga with his weird little smile; it’s already the stuff of legend. I think people remember it a long time.

    …but yeah, replay would freaking help, wouldn’t it?

  8. Steve Brosemer said...

    Should be known as the 28 Out Perfect Game.  Selig should give the umpire mental closure by doing what’s right by Galarraga.

  9. brad said...

    the first baseman nwas bobbling th ball as the runner touched first. safe by a mile…after all that sucking up the ump was right as he called it he knew it!

  10. Andrew Lavigne said...

    Why (apart from tradition,aka bullshit) doesn’t MLB change the call? There’s no question that it was a perfect game, it’s all on video tape. The way the Ump’s throat constricted and the way his tongue and lips moved and the resulting sound are the only thing that change it.

  11. Jim C said...

    Get a clue Brad. First, it wasn’t the first baseman on the bag, it was the pitcher. Second, the ball was in his glove the whole time. Have you actually watched the replay, or were you looking at a different game?

  12. Jay Gloab said...

    I don’t think it would change how well this game is remembered if Selig decided to reverse the call and award Galarraga a perfect game.

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