The Great Northwest Perfect Game Conspiracy?
Over at Lookout Landing
(the Mariners blog), there has been some suspicion that the umpire may have called that last pitch a strike when, in fact, it may have been a ball, on the basis of the fact that the batter may have merely check swung at the ball and held back just in time. There is an understandable fear of repeating history in taking away the perfect game, a la Jim Joyce (in the Armando Galarraga controversy), and I'm pretty sure Brian Runge (the Home Plate umpire) understood that. Here's an excerpt from Jeff Sullivan, writing over at the Mariners blog:
"So I'm a little disappointed with Ryan. And I wish he wouldn't have even tried to check his swing at the pitch in the first place. Runge wasn't going to ring him up on an outside slider near the dirt. But I get why Ryan did what he did. When you play you're in the moment, and Ryan didn't think he went around. I didn't think he went around. In live action, it sure as hell looked like Ryan held up. Removed completely from context, that would look like a checked swing. I promise I'm not biased. I mean, I'm not free of bias, but if Ryan did swing, I wouldn't be afraid to admit it. Again, I don't mind that the Mariners got perfect game'd...
Philip Humber's perfect game - one of very few perfect games that's ever been thrown - ended with a controversial swinging strikeout. If you paid attention to the TV, you wouldn't know it was controversial in the least, because nobody so much as acknowledged the possibility that Ryan might not have gone around. Nobody wanted to talk about that. They only wanted to talk about the perfect game. FOX never aired a side-view replay of Ryan's swing, and you know they have the technology to air side-view replays. You see side-view replays all the time. Usually on close check-swings."
While the fear of repeating history on the part of the umpire provides a rational basis for inquiry with respect to possible ulterior motives on a seemingly questionable call, let's study the evidence:
Animated gif, showing the sequence (from above)
Evidence | Evidence, with proof
The evidence has spoken; the umpire got it right. The perfect game was not just a mere handout, after all. Humber deserved it. (Look closely at the shadow created by the bat, and see its position over the plate as the ball passes)
P.S. I’m aware that the argument about the azimuth (angle of sun casting shadow, based on time of day) might cast a smidgeon of doubt, but still, the evidence shows the bat was clearly over and beyond the plate as the ball passed.
So there you have it. The perfect game... was legit.