For the first joint project of Pressing Coverage we both chose one moment in sports history that we would like to see changed.
Max: Armando Galarraga’s Near Perfect Game
In baseball the perfect game stands above the rest as the sport’s greatest feat. It also stands alongside a perfect game in bowling and the triple crown in horse racing as one of the most impressive accomplishments in all of sports. No matter who the pitcher is or what team they play for, it is impossible to not be captivated by the overwhelming display of dominance. Where one person is able to completely shut down nine of some of the best baseball players in the world. Only 23 players in baseballs over 100 years of existence have achieved this accomplishment. While few have completed a perfect game even fewer have had a perfect game broken up with the 27th batter. One such pitcher was Armando Galarraga.
On June 2nd, 2010 Armando Galarraga took the mound for the Detroit Tigers. For 8 2/3 innings Galarraga was in complete control of the game retiring all 26 who came to the plate. The 27th batter Jason Donald came to bat and hit a soft grounder to the first baseman Miguel Cabrera. In a bang-bang play at first Donald was called safe. On further investigation of the play it can be seen the umpire Jim Joyce got the play wrong and Donald should have been out. Thus breaking up the perfect game and no hitter.
While Galarraga would go on to get the final out and the Tigers would win the game, I would still change Joyce’s call. Galarraga deserved to join the ranks of those who had pitched a perfect game. Unfortunately, he was negatively affected by someone else’s mistake. While this change would most likely not alter the course of his short MLB career it would give him the satisfaction that he accomplished something truly great. From a fan’s standpoint I want the call changed for the love of the game. To be able to witness such a rare event is nothing short of a treat and personally it sits on the top of my sports bucket list to see in person. If there is a silver lining to this story it is that this event sparked the movement to bring instant replay to the MLB. While it wasn’t there to help Galarraga hopefully in the future the instant replay will be able to save another pitcher’s perfect game so they can gain the recognition they earned.
Mason: Gordon Hayward’s Missed Half Court Buzzer Beater in the 2010 Championship Game
It still stings. Butler’s run in the 2010 tournament had all the makings of a Disney fairy tale, but then it ended like an episode of Game of Thrones. As a 15 year old living in Texas, I had no idea who the Butler Bulldogs were, I didn’t know where the University of Butler was located, and I couldn’t name a single player on their roster. But by the time they played Duke in the national championship, almost every college basketball fan knew about Butler.
They came in to the tournament as a 5th seed in the West and were very much slept on before the start of the first round of play. They breezed past 12th seed UTEP, then proceeded to edge past a very dangerous Murray State team that was the 13th seed. Then things got interesting. The Bulldogs then traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to take on #1 seeded Syracuse. A Syracuse team that was at one point ranked as the #1 team in the country. Watching Willie Veasely drain those clutch trifectas late in the game to seal the win over ‘Cuse is what sold me on Butler. After winning a thriller against the Orange, the Dogs had to face the #2 seeded Kansas State Wildcats. Kansas State took the lead with a little less than 5 minutes to go, but then Gordon Hayward scored and the All-American and his team ran away with the victory. Gordon Hayward plays for the Utah Jazz now by the way, so that’s interesting and totally not a coincidence…
Now Butler was in the Final Four for the first time in school history. Coincidentally, the University of Butler is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the campus being about 6 miles away from Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Final Four was being hosted…I couldn’t make this stuff up. As a neutral fan at this point, there was no way that I was going to root against Butler, they were the classic underdog story that was going to have the opportunity to bring home their first national championship, WHILE PLAYING IN THEIR HOME CITY!? If they won then I probably would’ve gone over to the dark side and become one of those people that believe sports are rigged…but we’ll get there.
The Final Four consisted of Butler, Michigan State, Duke, and West Virginia. The Spartans clad in green and white were the next team to face the team of destiny. MSU was not to be underestimated though, considering that they had taken down two top 25 ranked teams in two of their past four games. Tom Izzo’s team made it a fantastic game, but the Dogs won thanks to forcing the Spartans to go to the line when down by 3. Gordon Hayward got the rebound of the second free throw and the Bulldogs would dance once more. Next up, the Duke Blue devils. Coach K was searching for his 4th title and behind a typical stacked Duke roster. Notable players would be Mason Plumlee and Kyle Singler.
It was close the entire game, but Butler trailed by 1 with about 50 seconds left. Gordon GOAT Hayward missed a jumper and Duke got the rebound with 3 seconds left and was immediately fouled. Duke then proceeded to make one and miss one, with the second free throw missing intentionally. Then Hayward got the rebound, just like he the game before.
Then he heaved it up from half court, and it hit the backboard, bounced off the front of the rim, and bounces out. Duke wins 61-59. The Fairy Tale had come to a harsh end and all of America, outside of Durnham, NC, was heartbroken. Had that shot gone in, there would be no doubt in my mind that the 2010 Butler run at the title would have gone down as one of the best if not THE best Cinderella story of all time. That run along with a half court buzzer beater for the win in the national championship game against an established power house…I’d say we would have seen a 30 for 30 on that team within the next 3 years. Sorry NC State, I love you but I wasn’t alive to witness you’re cardiac run. Oh and I never mentioned, but Butler made ANOTHER run at the title the following year, but lost to “Cardiac” Kemba Walker and the UCONN Huskies.