Well, it has been awhile since I have shared a sports message. News has been a bit slow of late -- until tonight. Two huge stories...one trumped by the other...and it is unfortunate that it did. The almost perfect game by Armando Gallaraga will go down in baseball infamy. First base umpire, Jim Joyce's blown call will be forever remembered and played on blooper highlight reels 'til the end of time. Gallaraga had pitched 8 2/3 innings and needed just one out to get a complete game (see previous post "Pitcher Perfect" for perfect game details). A ball was hit wide of first base by batter, Jason Donald, for the Cleveland Indians...Detroit first baseman, Miguel Cabrera scooped up the ball and threw it to Gallaraga, who covered first. The ball beat the runner by more than half a step, and yet, the umpire called him safe. Pandemonium soon ensued, as the Tigers manager and players came out to argue, but the call and the game had already ended. Joyce bravely owned up to the mistake, and Gallaraga was as gracoius as any individual could be in having baseball immortality ripped out of his hands. And if this blown call doesn't get instant replay into baseball, once-and-for-all, I don't know what will do it -- it needs to happen. I understand those who defend the need for "the human element," but this is also the problem! It is so important to get such calls right.
The sad aspect of this front-running story is that it trumped the second major story of the night -- the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr. It is almost fitting, as it seems like Griffey Jr. has had so much misfortune and misunderstanding in his career...it is a sad twist of fate. Griffey Jr. may be the best "unstained by steroids" player from the "steroids era" of the baseball, which spanned the 20 years from the late 80s up until a few years ago. He had a marvelous career for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds that spanned 22 years...a great example of sports longevity. The problem is that Griffey Jr was injured much of the last ten years of his career, which has caused many to wonder -- what could or would he have done if he had remained healthy? He surely would own most power records for Major League Baseball...including home runs. Yet, Griffey played the game all-out...almost recklessly...as he would put himself in positions to be injured by diving head-long for balls and running into Center Field walls. Nonetheless, I believe Griffey Jr, the man who really did save baseball in Seattle in the late 90s, will be fondly remembered by history as a legitimately honest, excellent player in an era where there may have been excellent players, but not very many who were honest. Kudos to the man who always played the game like a kid...and thus his nickname "the Kid." So long, Kid...hope you enjoy your retirement.