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Bud Selig says he won't overrule ump on imperfect game

Home plate umpire Jim Joyce wipes tears during

Home plate umpire Jim Joyce wipes tears during the exchange of lineup cards between Cleveland Indians bench coach Tim Tolman, left, and Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, right before a baseball game in Detroit Thursday, June 3, 2010. Galarraga lost his bid for a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning on a disputed call at first base by Joyce on Tuesday night. Photo Credit: AP Photo

Armando Galarraga's imperfect game will remain so for eternity.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig decided Thursday not to reverse umpire Jim Joyce's incorrect call on what should have been the Indians' final out Wednesday, for fear of setting a precedent in overruling a judgment call.

But the decision does not necessarily mean the controversial one-hitter will fade into obscurity. It might become a pivotal event in baseball's slow march toward expanding instant replay.

After beginning a statement Thursday by lauding Galarraga's performance, the "dignity and class" of the Tigers and Joyce's candor in admitting he was wrong, Selig opened the door to more use of video reviews.

"As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night's game should have ended differently," Selig said.

"While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed. Given last night's call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features."

Selig added that before announcing any decisions, he would consult "all appropriate parties," such as the players' and umpires' unions, and the Special Committee for On-Field Matters, which includes managers, general managers and owners. Tigers manager Jim Leyland is a member.

Baseball currently uses instant replay only on home run calls - whether the ball is fair or foul or has left the playing field.

Selig's statement came about two hours after a dramatic scene in Detroit before the Tigers' game against the Indians.

Joyce, who bluntly accepted blame for his error minutes after the game, was in tears as he entered Comerica Park from a tunnel with his fellow umpires.

Leyland sent Galarraga to deliver the lineup card to Joyce, 54, who was scheduled to work behind home plate.

As Joyce examined the card, the pitcher patted him on the shoulder; Joyce then patted Galarraga, and the pitcher returned to the dugout to a standing ovation.

Before the game, Joyce told reporters he appreciated the support from many quarters but was unhappy his family - wife Kay and children Jimmy and Keri - were targets of criticism.

"I wish my family was out of this,"he said. "I wish they would direct it all to me. It's a big problem. My wife is a rock. My kids are very strong. They don't deserve this."Wednesday's finish, which was shown live nationally on ESPN and MLB Network, drew extraordinary attention, even among non-sports fans, and overshadowed the two perfect games thrown in May - the first time since 1880 the feat had been accomplished twice in a season.

Galarraga, 28, needed only to retire the Indians' Jason Donald to complete Major League Baseball's 21st perfect game - in which all 27 batters are retired without reaching base.

Donald hit the ball to the right of first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who fielded it and threw to the pitcher covering first base. Replays showed Galarraga beat the runner to the base, but Joyce called him safe.

General Motors presented Galarraga with a Corvette convertible before Thursday's game. When the pitcher met with reporters he maintained the sympathetic stance he took Wednesday night.

Some Tigers players who did confront Joyce Wednesday softened their tones Thursday, and Leyland, who vehemently argued the call, urged compassion.

"The guy had every bit of integrity; he faced the music," Leyland said. "He stood there and took it . . .

Long Islanders reactions:


Heather Scibelli, 40, Williston Park:

"I truly think that what the ref says, has to be. Whether he's wrong or not, I think you always go with the ref. Even if the ref is wrong - there's no way to change the decision anyway, so I guess you just have to live with that."

"I think if the ref was truly wrong, then they should have rewarded him a perfect game."


Owen Brown, 10, Williston Park:

"That was ridiculous. I can't believe he blew it. I feel so bad for the kid."

On MLB's decision: "It's a terrible decision. I think the kid really should've had it."

If he was pitcher: "You don't want to know, really. I would've gone berserk."

"Even though the benches cleared and everyone went a little crazy, I think the teams handled it the right way."


Finny Samuel, 36, Albertson, Pharmacist:

"I think ultimately it's probably the right decision because right now the human factor is in the game. That's one of the aspects of baseball that makes it unique. I think that if you actually go back and reverse that decision, you kind of open up Pandora's box. What other elements of the game will they take away and change? It's a bad call, but it happens and it's part of the game."

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