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Spoofs & Satire

I Blew the Call

Whether ruining a perfect game or mistaking your mother-in-law for a man, you can’t be expected to get every call right.

Library of Congress

I’ll be the first to admit it. I was wrong. Although I initially ruled that the runner reached first base safely, spoiling Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga’s perfect game in the bottom of the ninth, a review of the slow-motion replay makes it clear that Cleveland’s Jason Donald was out by a good two feet. Possibly five.

I’m not perfect, all right? I can acknowledge that.

Just as I can acknowledge that I was mistaken when I thought I’d caught my wife having lunch with another man at a fancy French restaurant, when a check of the replay suggested she was actually with her mother, and that the fancy French restaurant was in fact a Denny’s.

To this day, she insists it wasn’t even a Denny’s, that it was our very own kitchen, but I don’t want to look at the footage again for fear that it will become too much of a crutch. I’ve been trained to make overly quick, authoritative decisions. It’s what I’m good at, no matter how much people may like to complain or throw batteries at my head. (I thought at first they were throwing coins—rare, silver and gold coins that would make me rich beyond belief—but a study of the replay and an analysis of my battery-shaped welts revealed my error.)

It’s bad enough that I get the occasional call wrong. If I make a habit of reviewing the tapes too often, I’ll end up constantly questioning myself. Are these socks black or just a very dark blue? Elm tree or oak? Irish setter or fabled Bigfoot? (Although the film quality of the latter replay was too grainy, and the camerawork too shaky, to make a conclusive judgment.)

Now that I’ve come out and admitted to some past gaffes, I may as well go all the way and present a full list of my blown calls:

  • The dazzlingly beautiful cloud of fluttering butterflies I observed turned out to be, upon review, a dazzlingly beautiful swarm of bees.
  • The forest in which I’d been hopelessly lost was merely a picture in a book I was holding.
  • The horde of rampaging zombies I encountered were in actuality a leisurely group of picnickers, and it was a mistake to empty my shotgun into them.
  • The red fox sparrow I spotted in my bird watcher’s club ended up being, much to my embarrassment, a sooty fox sparrow.
  • And all that earlier stuff about catching my wife with another man? How it was only her mother? And the lingering question of whether it was Denny’s or just my kitchen? It was all a dream. I’m not even married.

So as you can see, I’m not infallible. I never claimed I was. But a person in my position has to be confident in his ability to make rash, split-second judgments, and for that very reason I refuse to watch any more replays. They’re fine for inexperienced people like you, but when you’re out there in the mix like I am—relying on your eyes, wits, and wild flights of imagination—surrendering your authority to a replay that instantly reveals the truth will only open up a can of worms that, upon further examination, may not be worms at all. But it’s definitely a can.

I think.

Ralph Gamelli has been published in The Big Jewel, McSweeney’s, Monkeybicycle, and Yankee Pot Roast. This is the part where he’s supposed to put down some little joke, but as always he refuses to bow to societal expectations. More by Ralph Gamelli