Did Armando Galarraga pitch a perfect game or didn’t he?  

And if he did, so what else is new? Good for him.

And if he didn’t, so what?  The umpire at the plate giveth;  the umpire at first base taketh away.



By now, the mystery and wonder of no-hitters and perfect games should be long gone from fans’ minds and hearts;  save for the lamentable degradation of hitting skills by modern players in the age of overexpansion, role players, and skill specialization.

There have been many, many articles questioning the odd frequency of such pitching feats of late and you can take your pick of pet theories. And here’s mine.

The reason Galarraga  was screwed out of his place in the record books was the same reason he was close to getting into it in the first place—amok umpiring, signed  and stamped with the team owners’ seal  of approval.

Just look at the balance sheet of history for a clue as to why Galarraga really shouldn’t be crying into his beer over this.

As the redoubtably mediocre Dallas Braden so clearly proved earlier this season, this stat just ain’t so special anymore, folks.

Eleven of the 20 perfect games in history have come in the last 29 years.

That’s one for every two and a half seasons. Throw in the usual one or two no-hitters now being thrown every season in recent decades and it’s all really not so special anymore.

Not since the 1981 strike and split-season, anyway,  when the owners (aka MLB.Inc)  lost their final battle over unfettered free agent compensation and came up with special rules for playoff eligibility—and got away with it.

Ever since then, MLB has used its legal monopolistic prerogative to implement numerous new policies, rule changes and directives to the umpires union to more directly influence game outcomes for the sake of accommodating television production, commercial programming, and ratings.

Rules have been added to speed up the pitcher’s delivery and batter’s plate time, alter the strike zone, remove distracting colors and accessories from pitchers’  gloves, eyewear, and uniforms.

An entire book could be devoted the massive programming shift toward night games in recent decades to accommodate TV viewers—a trend that no pro player past or present would argue hasn’t forever  altered the equation toward a pitcher’s advantage.

The result: Of the 50 best season batting averages in MLB history, not one has come since 1980.

Is there anybody in the world who believes the overall quality of major league pitchers has suddenly dramatically increased in the last 30 years?

Of course not.

The simple fact is baseball has never been above changing the rules to suit their needs.

Let’s skip the obvious examples, such as the institution of the designated hitter rule, and reach a little further back.

Foul balls didn’t used to be counted as strikes, and four strikes used to equal an out.  

Spitballs were legal, and cut fastballs actually used to have cuts in them  not all that long ago.

In the 1960s when power pitchers were in their heyday and premier hitters were dirt-diving for their very lives, the mound got lowered. 

Approval and subsequent widespread use of artificial turf has eliminated 90 percent of the “bad hops” faced by the fielders  of yore.

In the post-strike season of 1998 when attendance and ratings were cratering, steroids and bat corking were far from the mind of MLB and the corporation did everything they could to encourage fan interest through the McGwire-Sosa race to the home run season record.

With a mindful eye toward the fact that both players on track for the record played for dismal teams and might not get the pitches necessary to reach their goal, MLB announced at mid-season any pitcher serving up a homer to the eventual record-breaker would be immortalized with their name on a plaque in Cooperstown  commemorating the feat.

As more than one pitcher commented the rest of the season when asked why he chose to pitch to—and be victimized  by—the Cards’ and Cubs’ lone dangerous batsmen in their lineups:  “Hey, it’s the only way I’ll ever get into the Hall, so what the hell.”

So after an era of wild scoring and pumped-up, corked-up offensive numbers and records, MLB has since countered by once again meddling with Abner Doubleday’s—or whoever’s—original winning formula.

It’s no secret any longer that MLB has empowered umps to manage and influence the game like never before, as witnessed numerous times through the glaring spotlight of the 2009 postseason and evidenced by the the embarrassing firings of several umpiring officials  made scapegoats for their effort.

The criminally blatant antics of umpires union chief Joe West and company and the institution of replay on fouls balls and home runs this season are simply another step in that game-influencing direction.

The next logical progression has to be instant replay on all calls but balls and strikes .

After that, is there any doubt  we will see electronic review and booth reversal of crucial balls and strikes calls that influence games?

It’s not a question of whether it’s a sucker punch to the heart of the sport’s purity or not, or whether it’s good for the game or not.  

In the eyes of MLB Inc., who have always exploited every means at their disposal to bend  the game to their commercial needs and wants, none of that sentimental stuff matters.  

It’s just what’s next.


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