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Worst blown calls in baseball history: Armando Galarraga's shoulda-been perfect game joins list

armando galarraga photo on flickr.jpg
A Flickr photo
Armando Galarrago got jobbed.
Last night, Detroit's Armando Galarraga got screwed out of a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly called a runner safe with two outs in the ninth.

Had Joyce, who's admitted his error, seen straight, Gallaraga would have joined an extremely exclusive club of major league pitchers.

Instead, he's gained entry to our roster of the worst blown calls of all time -- a 2009 list that includes one notable botch involving your Colorado Rockies.

clint barmes with the ball on the ground.jpg
A photo of Clint Barmes (with the ball on the turf beside him) posted to a Denver Post fan page by reader Craig Welling.

Our roundup was prompted by what initially seemed like an astonishing grab by Clint Barmes, which helped preserve a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals -- but in the days that followed, numerous photos popped up showing the ball on the ground.

As we noted at the time, it was too early to declare this botch an all-timer -- and in retrospect, the game in which the mistake took place didn't prove important enough to qualify. But another Rockies' moment more than earned its spot in a 2008 USA Today collection of MLB plays most in need of further review.

Here's how we broke down the paper's choices last year:

Oct. 1, 2007, NL wild-card tie-breaker: Did Matt Holliday actually touch the plate while sliding in to win a key contest against the San Diego Padres in the thirteenth inning? Some true-believing Rockies fans say "yes." Other true-believing Rockies fans say "no." And all true-believing Rockies fans think it's pretty damn funny the way things worked out.

Oct. 12, 2005 ALCS Game 2: A.J. Pierzynski was allowed to take first base after a third strike bounced out of catcher Josh Paul's glove. But since the umpire had already rung up Pierzynski, he should have been out, right? Not according to White Sox lovers, who were able to celebrate a few minutes later when a pinch runner put in for Pierzynski scored the winning run.

Oct. 9, 1996, ALCS Game 1: A Derek Jeter fly ball was transformed into a home run thanks to fan interference, as well as a bunch of officials who apparently hadn't been to Lens Crafters in a long, long time.

Oct. 20, 1991 World Series Game 2: Minnesota Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek helped Ron Gant's leg off the bag while tagging him out -- and the umpire let it stand, later claiming that the real villain was "momentum." Which Hrbek gave a hand.

Oct. 26, 1985, World Series, Game 6: Kansas City's Jorge Orta safely arrived at first base in the mind of umpire Don Denkinger and almost no one else -- a ruling that helped the Royals claim a 2-1 win.

Oct. 14, 1975, World Series Game 3: Cincinnati's Ed Armbrister bunted, then cleverly caused Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk to make an errant throw by interfering with him in a way that the umpire saw as no interference at all. If the Red Sox hadn't won two World Series titles in recent years, they'd still be bitching about this.

Sept. 23, 1908: The Giants would have beaten the Cubs 2-1 had Fred Merkle actually managed to touch second on his trip around the bases. He didn't, causing the game to be ruled a tie -- and the Cubs won the makeup contest en route to their last World Series victory. This sequence of events qualifies as the list topper because of its nickname: Merkle's boner. Bet Mrs. Merkle wasn't amused.



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