Oh ye gods of baseball! Why dost thou smite the ambition of youth for the folly of the blind? Is thy glee found in the doldrums of agony and unsatisfied joy? Didst thou ever consult with Ernie Harwell before fate fell before us?
When you have a loss like the one last night when umpire Jim Joyce botched a call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Gallaraga what would have been a perfect game; the first one in the ball club’s history; the third this season; and the 21st ever in Major League Baseball, it drives you to the point of writing in Middle English and italics.
You probably don’t need me to replay the whole thing for you. Here at TIME’s Newsfeed, we already ran a post about it. But this time, it’s more personal.
Full disclosure: I’m a native Detroiter. I grew up on the West Side, raised by autoworkers. I even produce a podcast about the city every week for our Detroit Blog. So believe me, the emotional highs and lows of sports in the Motor City are part of the rhythm of that town.
Jubilant memories of the Tigers’ 1984 World Series win against the San Diego Padres are tempered with the 2006 loss against the St. Louis Cardinals; the Pistons painful 1988 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers was washed away with the NBA championship reign of the Bad Boys for the next two years; brawls like the one spawned by Claude Lemieux and the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and Ron Artest and the Indiana Pacers in 2004 were as much the talk of the town as boxing’s Thomas “Hitman” Hearns loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981.
Then there’s every Lions season my entire life .
But a chance to celebrate a perfect game in Comerica Park, then have it snatched away by an umpire’s poor judgement — for which he has himself admitted and profusely apologized — adds to the list of emotional lows. Part of Detroit really feels cheated, part of it is focused on Gallaraga, all of it is pissed.
The tweets tell the story:
#markandparx says: “We and detroit‘s pitcher have something in common from last night-we both got robbed!”
Meanwhile, #MMFlint (actually filmmaker Michael Moore) is elated, then shocked: “Congrats 2 Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga 2nite on throwing a Perfect Ga… NOOOOOOOOO! WTF?! Now I’ve seen every type of crime here!”
There are of course calls of bloody murder, but also more realistic calls to finally include instant replay in baseball, something that has been elusive as getting a national-championship game in college football. And there’s talk of MLB actually reviewing the game to see if the screwup was so egregious that it warrants being called back and the perfect game awarded anyway.
Perhaps that will come to pass, but today the pavement on Woodward Avenue is wet with sorrow over what would have placed the 28-year-old right hander on the plateau of Detroit sports history with the Lions’ Dick “Night Train” Lane, the Red Wings’ Gordie Howe, the Tigers’ Ty Cobb, and more recent figures like people like the Pistons’ Isaiah Thomas, the Wings’ Steve Yzerman, the Lions’ Barry Sanders and legendary boxing manager Emmanuel Stewart.