Should Bud Selig reverse the call and award Galarraga the perfect game?

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Selig 6.jpgThat’s the question a dozen people have asked me so far. People are tweeting about it. Even my wife — who knows nothing about any of this aside from the fact that I’m banging out copy about it at 10:00PM about — asked “why can’t they just fix the call?”  Let’s unpack:

Can Bud reverse the call?:  Sure, why not?  I’ve seen some people mention Bud Selig’s powers to act “in the best interests of baseball,” but I think that’s got it wrong.  Those powers — which are specified in Article II, Section 3of the league’s Constitution — tend to be reserved for discipline and control of teams and employees. Business matters among the franchises, really, not on-the-field activities.

On-the-field, the Commissioner of Baseball would appear to have plenary power. He can deem an All-Star Game a tie. He has total control to grant or deny protests. He can make up stuff on the fly, just like he did with replay on boundary calls.  Technically speaking, there is no reason why Bud Selig can’t overturn the call, void anything that happened after it and grant Galarraga his perfect game.

Should Bud Selig reverse the call?  This is a toughie — and I’ll accept argument to the contrary, but my gut instinct is to say no.

What is accomplished by doing such a thing?  Galarraga doesn’t get to go back onto the field and have his teammates mob him.  The 17,738 people in Comerica Park for the game don’t get to come back together and cheer.  No highlight, no collective memory and no euphoria would be gained.  All that would be changed is a notation in a record book.

And doing so risks an awful lot.  Why retroactively overturn this call and not others?  Bad calls happen all the time.  Should Bud Selig be in the business of changing the outcomes of games in which outs were called on trapped balls?  Should he demand that a game be started over from the top of the sixth inning when the umpires missed a balk?  It’s an overused phrase, but it’s overused for a reason: where do you draw the line?

The funny thing here is that by keeping the call as-is — however unfair it might be — we may just be able to prevent just such a can of worms from ever being opened.  Why? Because if this game stands as a travesty — if Armando Galarraga remains a martyr, as it were — action may finally be spurred to implement instant replay.  And if that happens the right calls will be made almost every time and Bud Selig will never have to concern himself with this kind of thing again.

Another overused, but still-apt phrase springs to mind: you can’t un-ring a bell.  What happened tonight happened. Baseball has to deal with it.  No act of God or Bud can and should erase it. All baseball can do from it is to learn and, hopefully, improve.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.