Selig won't reverse call

Updated: June 4, 2010, 11:27 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig won't reverse an umpire's admitted blown call that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

Selig said Thursday in a statement that Major League Baseball will look at expanded replay and umpiring, but didn't specifically address umpire Jim Joyce's botched call Wednesday night.

A baseball official familiar with the decision confirmed to The Associated Press that the call was not being reversed. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that element was not included in Selig's statement.

[+] EnlargeJim Joyce
AP Photo/Paul SancyaUmpire Jim Joyce tries to explain himself to Tigers players after his missed call cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game Wednesday. Joyce's call will stand, commissioner Bud Selig said.

Joyce said he erred on what would've been the final out in Detroit, where the Tigers beat Cleveland 3-0. The umpire personally apologized to Galarraga and hugged him after the game, then took the field at Comerica Park on Thursday in tears.

"It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it," a distraught Joyce said Wednesday night. "I just cost that kid a perfect game."

Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski had said the team wouldn't ask MLB to overturn the call. The mistake denied Galarraga the 21st perfect game in history, and the first for the Tigers.

Joyce ruled Cleveland's Jason Donald safe at first base, but later said he got it wrong. Even in the sports world, where bad calls are part of the mix, this one reached way beyond the lines: the perfect game that wasn't.

Joyce declined comment on MLB's statement after Thursday's game, saying he hadn't read it.

What Selig said was: "There is no dispute that last night's game should have ended differently."

Galarraga, who was barely known outside of Detroit before this week, and Joyce, whose career had flourished in relative anonymity, remained trending topics on Twitter more than 12 hours after the game ended. At least one anti-Joyce Facebook page popped up and firejimjoyce.com was launched.

From Derek Jeter to casual fans, opinions poured in.

"I was thinking if the umpire says he made a mistake on replay, I'd call it a no-hitter, perfect game. Just scratch it," St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "If I was Mr. Selig, in the best interest of the game. The guy got it and I'd give him his perfect game. But here again, I should just shut my mouth."

Even presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs weighed in from the White House.

"I hope that baseball awards a perfect game to that pitcher," Gibbs said.

Former Cub Milt Pappas, who lost a perfect game in 1972 when the home plate umpire called a ball on a full count on the 27th batter, ridiculed Selig for his refusal to reverse Joyce's decision.

What an idiot. How the hell can [Selig] not do that? What is it, the integrity of the game? I can't believe that, after the umpire even admitted what he did. [Joyce] ruined the kid's perfect game and said so. Unbelievable. It's too bad.

-- Former Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas on Selig not reversing the call

"What an idiot. How the hell can [Selig] not do that? What is it, the integrity of the game? I can't believe that, after the umpire even admitted what he did," Pappas told Willie Weinbaum of ESPN's Enterprise Unit. "[Joyce] ruined the kid's perfect game and said so. Unbelievable. It's too bad."

A visibly upset Joyce wiped away tears Thursday as he took the field for the Tigers' series finale against the Cleveland Indians. He and Galarraga met at home plate as the pitcher presented the umpire with the Tigers' lineup card. Joyce shook hands with Galarraga and clapped him on the shoulder.

Leyland said MLB gave Joyce the option to not work Thursday's game, but Joyce chose to stick with his job behind the plate.

Selig said he would "examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features" in the wake of the blown call. He said he'd consult with baseball's labor unions and the game's special committee for on-field matters before announcing any decisions.

Currently, instant replay can be used only for questionable home runs.

ESPN the Magazine senior writer Buster Olney reported Friday that club officials took Selig's statement as a sign his mind is open to replay. League sources told Olney that instant replay wasn't brought up at last year's general manager meetings because the GMs considered it a waste of time because Selig was against it.

Selig also praised Joyce for his handling of the situation afterward, as well as Galarraga and Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

"The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order," Selig said. "[Galarraga] and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation.

"I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim's candor illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989," Selig said.

Michigan lawmakers got into the act on Thursday, lobbying Selig to reverse the call and recognize Galarraga as having thrown a perfect game. Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued a proclamation declaring that Galarraga had indeed pitched a perfect game, while U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell said he'd introduce a congressional resolution asking Major League Baseball to overturn the blown call.

And U.S. Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter, in a letter to Selig obtained by ESPN.com's Amy K. Nelson, asked him to recognize it as a perfect game, saying "only the truth will uphold and honor the integrity of the game; and the truth is that this game was perfect."

Later, McCotter told Nelson, "When this happened, the feeling here in Detroit was this could only happen to us; this was just one more thing on top of everything else."

McCotter was upset with Selig's decision. McCotter's letter was written before Selig said he would not reverse Joyce's call.

"I'm a conservative. I like the tradition of the game, I like the human dimension of the game," McCotter told Nelson, "but [Selig] cannot divorce himself from the human dimension of the game. What are they, automatons up there? Is it a computer that you just plug into?

"Bottom line, I just wish that some of the character and moral courage that the umpire showed in admitting his honest mistake had been replicated by Major League Baseball."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.