Armando Galarraga’s One-Hitter Was Still Rare

Armando Galarraga just pitched the most famous one-hitter of the decade. His disappointment was understandable, but even the blown call put him in a pretty exclusive group. Since 1920, there have been just 136 no-nos, and just 489 one-hit shutouts. This year, before last night, there were exactly three of each: Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden, and Roy Halladay all twirled no-hitters, and Matt Cain, Mat Latos, and Johnny Cueto all pitched one-hitters. Galarraga is the fourth.

Galarraga wasn’t the only one to have his no-no bid ruined by an infield single, either: Latos and Cueto were similarly both undone by infield singles to shortstop. But Cueto only took his no-hitter into the third inning, and Latos only took his into the sixth, so the level of scrutiny was nowhere near the same. (Cain gave up a double to deep right-center in the second inning, so he wasn’t quite as heartbroken.)

This has been a rather remarkable season: three no-hitters (two of them perfect games) and four one-hitters, in three of which the only hit was an infield single. The last year that there were this many combined no-hitters and one-hitters was 2007, with no-nos from Clay Buchholz, Justin Verlander, and Mark Buehrle, and one-hitters by Scott Baker, Dustin McGowan, Curt Schilling, and Felix Hernandez. The last time there were more than seven combined no-hitters and one-hitters was 2001, when there were three no-hitters (A.J. Burnett, Hideo Nomo, and the otherwise-forgotten Bud Smith) and eight one-hitters (Buehrle, Nomo, Mike Mussina, Kerry Wood, Mark Mulder, Jon Lieber, Randy Wolf, and Todd Ritchie).

The real challenge for Galarraga will be to keep pitching effectively, like Felix Hernandez, rather than turn back into a pumpkin, like Todd Ritchie. But he shouldn’t feel too bad about failing to join one of baseball’s elusive clubs. He already joined another.



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Alex is a writer for The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.



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Barry Jive
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Barry Jive

So we’re just going to pretend he didn’t throw a perfect game, then?

Doug Lampert
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Doug Lampert

Officially he did not. Just like Harvey Haddix officially didn’t and Ernie Shore officially didn’t.

Gdiguy
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Gdiguy

They officially didn’t because of a stupid official definition of perfect game

Galarraga thew one that isn’t officially recognized because Selig is a spineless weasel

Doug Lampert
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Doug Lampert

Selig is following the same rulebook that made the other two not perfect games, and he can overrule the rulebook in any of the three cases using the same “best interests of baseball” clause.

You can’t blame some on the rulebook and others on Selig. He’s got the same authority in all three cases, and the rules are clear in all three cases. The only distinction is that one of them was yesterday and the others long ago, but if you blame Selig for this one I don’t see how you can blame the rulebook for the other two.

There’s no provision in the rules for overturning this sort of call other than the “best interests” clause. Selig doesn’t have the job of second guessing umpire’s on field decisions, even when they’re plainly wrong and later admit they were wrong. He does have the job of doing what’s best for the game.

I’m not sure reversing a call once its made is for the best for the game, I am sure that doing something to PREVENT bad calls from becoming official in the first place would be a good thing and better for the game than muttering “human element” and insisting that bad calls must always stand.

The problem is the lack of an instant replay, not the lack of calling this a perfect game, Galarraga will join Shore and Haddix with the distinction of having a “near perfect” game that’s more famous than all but one of MLB’s rulebook perfect games.

davidk
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davidk

If he decided to overturn the call by invoking the “best interests of baseball” clause, in a situation where the outcome of the game wasn’t in question (since the Tigers won anyway), wouldn’t it behoove him to overturn ALL similar calls when the outcome of the game was DIRECTLY affected, such as last night Mariners-Twins game where the Mariners won in the bottom of the 10th as a direct result of a bad call? Do you consider a perfect game more important to the “best interests of baseball” than an actual game-decider which, who knows, can possibly cost the Twins a playoff spot if the Tigers win the division by a game and an AL East team gets the wild card?

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