Selig doubts replay use will expand
SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Monday that he refrained from awarding Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game last week because he feared setting a bad precedent and opening a "Pandora's box.'' He also pronounced himself "very comfortable" with his decision, even though a sizable percentage of fans and media urged him to make an exception on Galarraga's behalf.
But Selig also told reporters that he does not see a groundswell of support in baseball circles for greater use of instant replay. While he will continue to hold discussions with his special committee for on-field matters, he expressed doubt that expanded use of replay will take place during the 2010 season.
"It is interesting," Selig said. "Most baseball people are really against instant replay. There's no question about that. I could sense that the last three days [in talking to people].
"In the end, good or bad, I will do what I think is right. I'm going to take the responsibility for it. I've been at this the last 45 years of my life, and the last 18 [as commissioner], so I'll trust my own judgment."
Selig, who appeared at Major League Baseball's annual draft Monday, made his first public comments on the errant call by umpire Jim Joyce that deprived Galarraga of the 21st perfect game in baseball history. He expressed regret over the result, but said that Galarraga, Joyce, Detroit manager Jim Leyland and the other parties involved helped turn a negative story into a positive one by acting so professionally and selflessly.
Joyce apologized for his errant call almost immediately, and Galarraga and Leyland refused to dispense blame after the game. A day after the Tigers' 3-0 victory, Galarraga brought the lineup card to home plate, and tapped a tearful Joyce on the shoulder. General Motors surprised the pitcher with a 2010 Corvette convertible to help ease the disappointment.
"I don't want to be trite here, but it really turned out to be a great story," Selig said. "You had a pitcher who acted just beautifully. You had an umpire who did what a lot of people in life should do. He told the truth -- 'I screwed up' -- and that was it. And I have undying admiration and respect for Jim Joyce, as I have told him.
"You have the Tiger fans who acted well, and Jimmy Leyland could not have acted better. I understand all the sadness around it, but I was really proud of baseball. That's as good as any sport has ever confronted a difficult situation, and the credit goes to the parties involved."
Selig said he will continue to solicit ideas from his 14-member special committee, which includes managers, general managers, ownership representatives, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and political columnist George Will. But he made it clear that baseball won't rush to expand the use of replay beyond settling dispute home run calls.
Amid a public furor over the state of umpiring in the game, Selig said public concerns about umpiring are nothing new. But they've become a major topic of conversation after recent incidents involving umpires Bill Hohn, Angel Hernandez and Joe West, along with the blown call by Joyce.
"I can remember as a kid in the 50s, listening to complaints about umpiring: 'God, it's awful. It's terrible. What are they gonna do?' " Selig said. "Here we are 60 years later and we seem to be doing OK.
"This has gone on for 130 years. You learn after a while there's nothing new. Grumbling about umpires has gone on since the day they first threw the ball in 1865 to '70."
Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com.