Wade Boggs and Hal McRae have a basic philosophy when it comes to baseball: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So while Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga might be suffering a broken heart after losing his perfect game with two outs in the ninth on a bad call, they don’t want Major League Baseball to play surgeon and change the course of history.
These two iconic figures give baseball a clean bill of health, arguing mistakes, disappointment and frustration are part of the game and in the end, it all irons out.
They were together Friday night to celebrate the completion of the new 13th Avenue Dream Center, which officially opens its doors Monday.
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They both back baseball’s decision to leave the Galarraga incident as is — the perfect game that was not.
“You can change the umpires, but don’t change the rules,” says McRae, a major leaguer for 19 years and a manager for six. “I would like to see baseball stay the same. We are not basketball or football. The replay of home runs is necessary, but that’s all.”
Boggs feels changing the status quo in baseball borders on being sacrilegious.
“You can’t play God,” the 2005 Hall of Fame inductee says. “There is a human element that dictates baseball, and we should keep it.
“Just because the call happened on the last play of the game, you can’t erase it. That will set a precedent and open a can of worms you don’t want to get into.”
Boggs, who ended his career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and McRae, who managed the team in 2001-02, don’t want instant replay expanded.
McRae admits his Kansas City Royals won the 1985 World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals because of a similar bad call at first, but says human error is part of the game along with hot dogs and peanuts.
Their message seems to be: Change the rules and invite chaos.
Boggs says all you have to do is look at Joe West, the eccentric major league umpire known as “Cowboy Joe.”
What would he do with the power to order instant replay and change games?
Also a singer/songwriter, West has come under fire for saying the game of baseball is too slow, overruling fellow umpires and having a quick trigger in tossing managers out of games.
“He is the one who says the games are too long. And if they are that way now, what will it be like with having to review questionable calls?” Boggs said. “Joe West won’t get to play his honky tonk music in the country and western bars until about 3 or 4 in the morning.”
While they feel strong about instant replay, Boggs and McRae can’t fathom why pitchers have been dominant this season with a no-hitter, two perfect games and almost a third.
“Maybe the hitters have taken a siesta,” Boggs said. “Every time I turn around somebody is throwing a perfect game or no-hitter. One thing for sure is that guys are firing it up. There is some real good pitching out there right now.”
Baseball aside, they both agree the long fundraising drive that culminated in the completion of the new 13th Avenue Dream Center was worthwhile.
The facility holds a special place in McRae’s heart. His wife of 43 years, Jo McRae Williams, is the daughter of Annie Lucy Williams, former director of the 13th Avenue Center and longtime educator in Manatee County.
“My family has a long history with the center, and it is dear to our hearts,” McRae said. “I used to go there when I first moved to Bradenton, and my wife and family all went there after school, so it was a home away from home for a lot of people.”