SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jason Donald, an infielder in camp with the Royals, was involved in one of the most controversial calls in recent baseball history. Yet, if the 2014 version of instant replay had been in effect in 2010, it would have been settled immediately and the subsequent uproar avoided.
In short, the Tigers' Armando Galarraga would have had a perfect game on June 2, 2010, because the replay would have shown that Donald, running to first base for the Indians, was out and the game was over.
"There wouldn't have been a second thought about it. They just would've reviewed it and it would have been done," Donald said.
As it was, first-base umpire Jim Joyce called Donald safe as pitcher Galarraga, covering first base, took a toss from first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Joyce blew the call.
"Oh, yeah. I knew the whole time I was out," Donald said.
The perfect game was lost -- Galarraga retired the next batter for a one-hit, 3-0 victory -- and the next day Joyce apologized to Galarraga, who accepted gracefully.
"I felt sorry for (Joyce) too, the way it turned out. But he handled it good, the best way you possibly could," Donald said.
Even so, the fallout reverberated for weeks.
"There wouldn't have been a story," Donald said. "It would've been more boring."
In the long run, that play undoubtedly was a factor in Major League Baseball's expansion of its replay program, which figures to make for more correct decisions but also eliminate many of the animated manager-umpire confrontations.
"That's one thing about baseball, there's that human error. There's that element," Donald said. "It's just always been part of the game. It's kind of weird when you start to change it."
Indeed, some of the color might fade away.
"You're not going to have a manager in the middle of the season coming completely unglued because he's frustrated and tired," Donald said.
Speaking of historical controversial calls that could have been changed with instant replay, there was a certain "safe" call in the 1985 World Series that Kansas City and St. Louis fans are still debating. Hmmm, now what was that umpire's name ... ?
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less