The cowardly commissioner
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig responded to the Armando Galarraga/Jim Joyce situation. Sort of. It took him 18 hours to issue a statement that said little. Instead his decision to not reverse the call came out through “anonymous source with knowledge of the situation.” Why Selig couldn’t do this himself is beyond me.
The statement is below, for the sake of completeness. I trust everybody has seen it at this point.
“First, on behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Armando Galarraga on a remarkable pitching performance. All of us who love the game appreciate the historic nature of his effort last night.
“The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order. Armando and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation. I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim’s candor illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989.
“As Jim Joyce said in his postgame comments, there is no dispute that last night’s game should have ended differently. 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. Before I announce any decisions, I will consult with all appropriate parties, including our two unions and the Special Committee for On-Field Matters, which consists of field managers, general managers, club owners and presidents.”
It’s not that I think Selig is making a mistake by not reversing the call. While I would love for Galarraga to get the credit he deserves and Joyce the peace of mind he is lacking, there is definitely a case to be made for not reversing a judgment call. Of course Selig doesn’t bother to make this case in the statement or in a media session.
Instead a Selig lackey somehow manages to get with every major sports news outlet and inform them that Selig isn’t going to overturn the call. Given that Fox, ESPN, SI, AP… all had this information about the same time as the release of the statement leads me to think that this anonymous source either had a conference call or sent out an email with a big BCC list.
My guesses for the reason for this approach are:
- Selig didn’t want to overturn the call but didn’t want to actually make the decision and seem like the bad guy
- Selig hasn’t decided what to do yet, and by not saying anything in the statement and instead floating information from “a source” he can evaluate the response before making his decision.
The irony is that this ordeal has been an exercise in grace, class, accepting responsibility for decisions, and humbly asking for forgiveness. Jim Joyce received applause from fans of the team who he just took a perfect game away from because he didn’t hide behind prepared statements. He stood up in front of everyone and with extreme sincerity said he screwed up.
Joyce had to make his decision in a split second. Selig had time, replays, advisors, and a host of options that Joyce didn’t have. Yet Selig still chose to act without any sort of meaningful authority.
Though Selig mentions the courage of Joyce and the dignity of the Tigers organization, he fails to display any of that in his handling of the reversal decision. Galarraga, Joyce, the Detroit Tigers, and baseball fans deserve far better.