Perfect Game Broken Up By Horrendous Call With Two Out in the 9th

Major League Baseball just came one out away from having its third perfect game this yearDetroit Tigers hurler Armando Galarraga had a perfect game going against the Cleveland Indians through 8 2/3 innings when Cleveland shortstop Jason Donald chopped a grounder toward first base.  The perfect game seemed like a certainty as Miguel Cabrera fielded the grounder and threw to a covering Galarraga for the out.  First base umpire Jim Joyce didn’t see it that way and called Donald safe on the play.  Just look at the picture above.

This is one of the worst calls — if not the absolute worst — I have ever seen in a baseball game.  Not only was the runner out by a full step, but in a situation like this even if it were a tie the call should go to the pitcher.  He’s one out away from a perfect game.  I can’t even imagine how mad Galarraga is right now.  What an absolute atrocity.  My guess is Jim Joyce won’t get much sleep tonight once he sees the replay of his call.

Here’s video of Jim Joyce’s blown call on Armando Galarraga’s perfect game

UPDATE (10:27 EST): People make mistakes.  Jim Joyce happened to make a huge one.  But I do want to mention that I admire the way he owned up to it after the game.  Joyce found Galarraga as quickly as he could once he saw the call he made and apologized to him, telling him he cost him a perfect game.  Galarraga was beyond classy in a post-game interview, saying he doesn’t blame Joyce and it was an honest mistake.  None of this crap changes the fact that Galarraga’s name should be in the record books and won’t be, but I respect Jim Joyce for not hiding from his screw-up.

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Tigers Manipulating Roster at Expense of Dontrelle Willis’ Reputation

This is slightly presumptive of me, but I’m not buying the whole “Dontrelle Willis has an anxiety disorder” thing. Much like when teams put a pitcher on the disabled list after they got bombed in a game, I think this is just a convenient excuse for a bruised ego. The Dodgers placed Andruw Jones on the DL last year with a knee injury. U-Jones later admitted that he asked to get away because he was sucking so badly. I’m figuring this is the same situation for Dontrelle and the Tigers.

The D-Train has been derailed since his last season in Florida in ’07 when he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA. Last year with the Tigers was a nightmare as Dontrelle went 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA and 35 walks in 24 innings pitched. He was so bad he got demoted all the way down to Single-A ball — not Triple-A — which would be the logical step downward. Willis was doing even worse in Spring Training, posting an ERA north of 12. Most of the time I can see right through the move when a team places a player on the disabled list as an excuse for the guy struggling. This is clearly one of those instances.

The thing I don’t get is why the Tigers are saying Dontrelle has an anxiety disorder, one that was discovered with a blood test no less. Medical professionals argue that such a disorder can’t even be determined by a blood test! So if it’s pretty plain to see that Willis wasn’t fit to play ball right now and needed time to figure things out, why didn’t the Tigers just make up some sort of injury like teams usually do? Why not just say the guy has some sort of arm injury, or better yet, a knee injury related to the one he had surgery for last season? Why not just do that instead of telling the world he has anxiety issues? Is there really a need to kick a guy when he’s already down?

Video: Indians/Tigers Brawl, Gary Sheffield and Fausto Carmona Fight!

If there’s one player in MLB you don’t want to mess with, it might be Gary Sheffield. The guy’s got a short fuse and already looks mean enough at the plate. He’s someone you don’t wanna piss off. Well, Fausto Carmona apparently could not care less, because after giving up a home run, he responded by brushing Sheffield back and nicking him with a pitch. The following brawl between the Tigers and Indians was the result. My advice is to watch with the sound down — you’ll enjoy it much more that way.

Thanks to contributor Gene for the tip. I think the best part was when Sheffield carried the bat the entire way down the first base line. How classic was that? I’m telling you, Sheff’s a guy you don’t wanna mess with. Fausto clearly wasn’t intimidated. Can you believe how steamed he got? I also liked Sheff’s explanation for the fight:

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Todd Jones Impersonates Magglio Ordonez in Rain Delay

Rain delays are always good for fun times in baseball. Over the weekend, it was Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen doing a Milli Villi music video that brought entertainment to Fenway Park. Before that, it was the Texas Rangers using the tarp at Shea Stadium as a slip and slide. But of all the fun had during rain delays, this might be my favorite. Check out Todd Jones doing his Magglio Ordonez impersonation for the ’06 ALCS home run that sent the Tigers to the World Series. It’s awesome:

The quality on that vid is pretty poor, but there’s another video from a fan in the stands if you want to get a feeling for the atmosphere. There’s no question about what makes it funny: it’s all in the hair. Plus, Jones does a really good job mimicking Magglio’s mannerisms and stance at the plate. That was a quality effort by Mr. Jones, quality.

Karma Comes Around for Bonderman

Yeah, I guess you can count me as a believer in Karma. Not completely to the point where I’m a Pedro Cerrano voodoo nut, but to the point where I believe in the notion that things can go around and come around. With that in mind, I present the case of Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman’s a 24-year-old stud pitcher with the Tigers, now in his fifth full season with Detroit. Presently, Bonderman is 8-0, standing alone as an undefeated starter in baseball. But he really hasn’t been that dominant this year. So what’s my point? Bonderman’s benefiting from karma.

The fact that Bonderman is 24 and pitching his fifth full season for the Tigers means he was a member of the 43-119 squad back in 2003. At the time, Bonderman was a 20-year-old rookie who failed to receive any semblance of run support. As a result, he wound up going 6-19. Such a horrendous season could’ve scarred him for life (see Greinke, Zach). Not the case. Talent and confidence prevailed, and Bonderman has rallied to the point where his career record is now an even .500 at 53-53. So while Bonderman hasn’t earned an 8-0 record through strong starts (he’s given up five runs on four occasions this year), he certainly deserves it.

Bonderman’s career is an excellent lesson for young players stuck on bad teams to not get discouraged. Giving it some time, you never know how things might change.

Baseball Preview: Detroit Tigers

Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.

Detroit Tigers (95-67, 1st in the NL Central) -3 games

Get Crunked: This lineup is as solid as it gets — I dare you to name me an easy out. Every single guy in the lineup is either a .300 hitter or 30 home guy, that’s impressive. Plus, they added Gary Sheffield, who will no doubt be the best hitter on the team. The bullpen is also spectacular with Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney setting up Todd Jones, and Jose Mesa too! Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, and Nate Robertson make a strong trio at the top of the rotation.

Party Foul: Kenny Rogers’ blood clot is the only thing that can hold this team back. It leaves a big hole in the rotation, coupled with Mike Maroth trying to return to form following an elbow injury last year. Other than that, I challenge you to find a weakness on this team.

Carlos Guillen, possibly the most underrated SS in the game

What’d my GM do: He brought in Gary Sheffield, enough said. The Tigers already had a solid lineup, but with the addition of Sean Casey at last year’s trade deadline, and Gary Sheffield in the off-season, they’re set. Dombrowski extended Carlos Guillen for four years at $48 million, and he’s well worth it. He also brought in Jose Mesa to help the bullpen, but the Sheffield addition was the key.

Lay it on me Straight: What the team may lack in it’s 4th and 5th starters with Rogers out, they’ll make up for in the solid performance of the pen, and the lineup improvement with Sheffield. It’s truly a well-oiled machine.

So where my boys gonna finish right now: They’ll win the division once again, coming out on top of baseball’s best division. They won’t win as many games as last year, nor will they have it locked up as early as they did, but they’ll still win the division.

Can we be better than that: It’ll be hard, 93 wins or so is a lot, especially considering Rogers is out, and how well he did last year. But man, if they did it last year without Sheffield and Casey, they can do it again this year.