Monday, April 23, 2012

Perfect, with a little help

Posted By on 04.23.12 at 07:29 AM

Philip Humber: Just what are you smiling about?
Not to suggest that Philip Humber's perfect game Saturday deserves an asterisk, but I've watched the replay of the final pitch several times and paused it as often as humanly possible, and there's no way that pitch was a strike, and it sure doesn't seem as if pinch hitter Brendan Ryan committed himself on the swing.

Fair enough. Every perfecto deserves a little luck, and Humber never called on his defense to make a play like Dewayne Wise's circus catch that preserved Mark Buehrle's three years ago.

If home-plate umpire Brian Runge gave Humber the benefit of the doubt on that final pitch, it should be remembered that it's not necessary for the umpire to be perfect in a perfect game—although if it were there would be 23 and not just 21 in Major League history.

Cubs fans of a certain age will of course recall Milt Pappas's 1972 no-hitter, downgraded from a perfect game when home-plate ump Bruce Froemming refused to call a full-count borderline pitch a strike on 27th batter Larry Stahl of the San Diego Padres. The famous line on that was that Pappas later asked Froemming about it, and the ump said he couldn't live with himself if he had made that call, prompting Pappas to ask how he could live with all the other butchered calls he'd ever made. Pappas remains irked about it, which came up two years ago when Detroit pitcher Armando Galaragga's perfect game against Cleveland was marred by first-base ump Jim Joyce when he blew the call on Galarraga covering first on the final out, a grounder to the right side of the infield. Replays confirmed it, and Joyce subsequently apologized, but that didn't change that his error deprived Galarraga of perfection.

So now the Baseball Project will have to add Humber's name somewhere to its "Harvey Haddix." Maybe the group should also consider adding a bridge citing Galarraga and Pappas as well.

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