MLB's Decade Defining Moments: Armando Galarraga's botched perfect game

Mike Oz

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As the end of the decade approaches, we’re looking at five indelible moments from the world Major League Baseball with a panel of guests talking about their significance. First up: Armando Galarraga’s blown perfect game.

The date was June 2, 2010 — only six months into this decade that is now days away from ending. It feels like an eternity ago, partially because 2010 seems like a different era of baseball. There was no video replay. We weren’t constantly arguing about things like analytics and bat flips. Social media hadn’t taken over. Heck, Juan Soto was only 11.

But on that June night, baseball took center stage in the national conversation. Armando Galarraga, pitching for the Detroit Tigers, was close to throwing MLB’s 21st perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. There were two outs in the ninth inning. Only Jason Donald stood between Galarraga and history — or so we thought. It turned out that first-base umpire Jim Joyce would have a hand in matters too.

You’ve probably seen the replay enough times over the years, too many times if you happen to live in Detroit. Donald hit a grounder to the right side that looked like the final out. It was a close play and Joyce called Donald safe. Replay showed that wasn’t the right call. He was out and it should have been a perfect game.

Baseball didn’t have the same corrective measures in place it does today for umpire mistakes, so the perfect game ended with a blown call. It wasn’t just a moment that all of sports was talking about, it was one of the moments that made MLB realize the time for change was here.

We talked to a panel of baseball players, managers and analysts — including New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, Angels manager Joe Maddon, ex-MLB star Cliff Floyd and current players Kevin Ginkel of the D-backs and Matt Beaty of the Dodgers — about this moment and its importance to this decade in baseball.

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