Shanoff's WUC: The Griffey-Galarraga Link

Today's Calls: Ken Griffey vs. Immortality, Armando Galarraga vs. Jim Joyce, Flyers vs. Blackhawks, Lakers vs. Celtics, Boise State vs. the Mountain West, LeBron vs. Iron Chef, John Calipari vs. Eric Bledsoe, Tom Thibodeau vs. Monty Williams, Stephen Strasburg vs. Bob Costas, Tiger vs. the Memorial, Spelling Bee vs. NBA Finals and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Baseball immortality can be a fickle thing. Consider our situation this morning: ↵

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↵Ken Griffey Jr. retired: Here is an icon. The Kid. Power. Speed. Defense. '89 Upper Deck. Junior for President. The backwards cap. Saving baseball in Seattle. Guaranteed 1st-ballot Hall of Famer. ↵

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↵630 career homers, top 5 all-time (until A-Rod knocks him out next season). More importantly, all-time "What if?" mojo: What if he was healthy all the way through his career? 700 HR? 800? ↵

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↵Equally powerful, a claim on the least sought-after title in baseball: "Best player to never play in a World Series." As mythic as Junior's abilities, that gives him a tangible baseball mortality: Not quite. ↵

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↵And then there is Armando Galarraga: A pitcher you almost surely had never heard of before last night, when he took Griffey's "not quite" and raised it an order of magnitude. ↵

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↵For Galarraga, there is no nickname. No legendary baseball card. No place in the Hall of Fame. There was just the chance to become just the 21st pitcher ever to throw a perfect game, a well-established short-cut to baseball immortality. Then ... ouch. ↵

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↵It might yet turn out that Galarraga earns a measure of immortality. His perfection was so close. Not just close, but entirely there -- then gone, robbed by an ump's bad call. Be honest: We will remember Galarraga more for "not quite" than "perfect." ↵

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↵Griffey's career: Mythic. Galarraga's perfect game: Mythical. ↵Both: Not quite. ↵

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↵More on Galarraga: Replay now. One more time: THERE IS NO REASON THAT BASEBALL SHOULDN'T HAVE INSTANT REPLAY AVAILABLE FOR ANY AND ALL PLAYS THAT MERIT THE HELP OF TECHNOLOGY. The integrity of the game is in getting the calls right. ↵

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↵(By the way, after further review: It wasn't an error. Although it would have been awesome if the hometown scorer, in the moment, had ruled it that way, giving Galarraga a no-hitter. I doubt MLB's "official scorer" would have been able to overturn it, even if that's a bad call. And speaking of overturning, MLB should not overturn the call and give him a perfect game. Again: Galarraga will have more of a lasting legacy for how the game ended than if it ended perfectly.) ↵

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↵And about ump Jim Joyce: He took a ton of grief. But read his reaction: "I don't know what to do. I cost that kid a perfect game. Biggest call of my career and I kicked the **** out of it." That is how you own up. Kudos to Joyce. ↵

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↵(If MLB and the umps union were smart, they would let Joyce go on an apology tour, repeating the same sentiment to anyone and everyone who wants him to say it, until the media and fans can't ask any more and ultimately give the guy a break.) ↵

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↵NBA Finals Game 1: Forget the Bynum X-factor. Or Rondo X-factor. Or, in the final throes of their careers, actual likability for KG, PP and Co. that can only come from an expectation-defying playoff run. (I can't help but compare these Celtics to the '95 Rockets, the most likable NBA title team ever.) ↵

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↵This is the moment where Kobe finally thwarts his franchise's nemesis, personally; separates himself from Shaq with his 5th title; and earns rare back-to-back championship and the accompanying "mini-dynasty" status. ↵

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↵It is unclear when Kobe's moment will end -- his last shot at a title, until he is displaced by LeBron or Wade or Dwight Howard. This might be it. ↵

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↵You should be paying attention, because this is one of the league's greatest players ever, at the apex of his mastery, if not his athletic ability. Lakers in 6. ↵

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↵LeBron Watch: Two words: Iron Chef. ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: The Flyers’ OT win capped an exciting night in sports -- from news of Griffey's retirement to the Galarraga thing to the thrill of an OT Stanley Cup game, which doubled as giving Philly new life in the series. ↵

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↵CFB Offseason: Boise State joining the Mountain West? Great move for the MWC (which may find itself raided for Utah/BYU -- a natural pair to join the Pac-10). ↵

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↵If the MWC stays intact, there is absolutely no reason for it not to be included in the BCS cabal, which has been the MWC's goal all along. It will only bolster the cause when Boise State wins the college football national title next year. ↵

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↵Kentucky scandal: The normally confident and chatty John Calipari had no comment about the Bledsoe situation. Read into that what you want. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: You mean more than Griffey and Galarraga? Really? You need more? Another Phillies loss to the Braves ... another Dodgers walk-off win ... Carl Crawford affirms his status as a current Top 3 All-Star-voting outfielder. ↵

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↵Strasburg Watch: Literally. Cue up MLB Network next Tuesday for Strasburg's MLB debut at home against the Pirates. Yes, it is that big of a deal. (He should hit his max pitch count just as Lakers-Celtics Game 3 tips off in Boston.) ↵
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↵NFL Offseason: The most intriguing team in the NFL remains ... the Patriots. What's that about a "disconnect" between Brady and the team? (And was that a Welker sighting at practice?) ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: He was all smiles at the Memorial pro-am yesterday, but all kidding aside, let's see him finish a tournament -- let alone win. ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Tom Thibodeau is the hottest name in NBA coaching circles -- between he and Monty Williams, finally, a glimmer that there is an actual NBA coaching development pipeline, rather than just re-treading with the same old names. Thibodeau would be wise to call the Hornets' bluff and wait for the Bulls job, which offers a better chance of short-term and long-term success. Oh yeah: And a shot at either LeBron or D-Wade. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Evan Turner ... at No. 4? (Before that happens, I could see the Nets trading with the T'wolves at No. 4 -- who would love Turner -- and picking up an extra piece from Minnesota. Would Minnesota throw in the No. 16 pick?) I do absolutely agree that Derrick Favors should be the No. 2 pick, ahead of Turner. ↵

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↵Fun: I like Dave Curtis' list of his Top 10 helmets in college football. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Bee. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the most pressure-packed sports event of the year. Much more coverage coming tomorrow morning, in advance of the semis and finals. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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