(This post was first published a year ago under the title June 4, 2010 – The Day Baseball Lost Me. I wrote it in a fit of passion, and I wanted to check in a year later to see if it was a flitting moment, or a real shift in priorities for me. I’ll answer that question at the end of the article.)
Twenty-seven up, Twenty-seven down!
It’s a PERFECT GAME! … A PERFECT GAME!
Hold on there, not so fast.
By now, we have all heard how earlier this month a blown call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Gallaraga a perfect game. Cleveland’s 27th batter, Jason Donald, was thrown out by a step at first base. Joyce later watched the replay and was quoted as saying, "I just cost that kid (Gallaraga) a perfect game."
It should have been only the 21st perfecto in history, and amazingly the third in less than a month, but it was not to be.
June 2 was the date of the game.
That wasn’t the day that baseball lost me as a fan.
Since that day, Joyce manned up and apologized to Gallaraga, and seemingly everyone, including President Obama, called for baseball to expand its use of instant replay. It was the perfect time for baseball to fix a historic mistake and put a stake in the ground to make sure this kind of thing never happens again moving forward.
But on June 4, Baseball-less Commissioner Bud Selig announced that he was refusing to reverse the call or to immediately implement changes to the instant replay policy.
That was the day that baseball lost me.
This lack of leadership at the top comes as no surprise. Earlier in his tenure as commissioner Bud Selig was more forward thinking, and was not afraid to propose inter-league play, to expand the playoffs, or create the World Baseball Classic.
But those changes took place many years ago, and today he comes up with a new thought about as often as area codes change in Montana. Today Selig can only be counted on to kowtow to the owners of the “Big Two” (Yankees, Red Sox) and to the baseball purists who are somehow happy that stupid mistakes on the part of umpires are part of the game. He consistently ignores the wishes of most modern fans who are accustomed to sports that use technology to get the call right.
This breakup was a long time in coming. I have a laundry list of complaints against the game that I have gunny-sacked until they have finally split the seams.
It annoys me that pitchers still bat in the National League. I also hate that there is no salary cap, meaning that once proud franchises in smaller markets like Pittsburgh and Kansas City will never again compete for a title, and that a guy like A-Rod can get paid more than some entire teams. And I feel cheated that once-cherished power statistics became meaningless during the steroid era under Bud’s watch. But like a roommate who rarely bathes but pays his share of the rent on time, baseball hadn’t annoyed me enough to evict it from my life.
When I heard that Selig had denied Gallaraga his place in history by refusing to do the right thing and reverse the call – a decision that would also have kept his umpire from a life of strong drink – I was done. I am now officially an ex-fan.
Sure, I will go to Anaheim to see the All-Star game if someone tosses me a ticket, just because it’s on the bucket list. And I will still try to visit a few of the new stadiums if I happen to be back East just to see what all the fuss is about. And I’m sure I will jump back on the bandwagon if the Cubs ever show a pulse again (no worries there). But after a lifetime of following box scores and keeping an eye on the standings, I no longer give a damn.
And I will continue not to care until Bud and the rest of the purists come to grips with the fact that we are now nearly two centuries away from the first game played at Elysian Fields. It’s time they realize that any game that refuses to evolve is a game that is on its way out.
At least for this former fan.
(Did I really mean it? Am I still a former fan? Well, apart from a visit to Dodger Stadium in April on a free ticket, I would have completely forgotten that there was a baseball season this year. Yep, it took.)