First the umpire blew the call.
Now, in the view of the White House, so did Major League Baseball.
Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs weighed in Thursday on the story that had the nation talking: umpire Jim Joyce's muffed call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. Galarraga on Wednesday night almost had the rare feat secured — 27 up, 27 down — except Joyce incorrectly called a runner safe on what would have been the final play of the game against the Cleveland Indians.
Replays showed that Joyce got the call wrong, which he later acknowledged after the seeing the video himself.
Said Gibbs: "I hope that baseball awards a perfect game to that pitcher."
By the time Gibbs made that statement in his press briefing, the news broke that Commissioner Bud Selig will not reverse Joyce's call.
A reporter informed Gibbs, who responded: "They're not going to do it?"
Then he quipped: "We're going to work on an executive order."
Joyce apologized to Galarraga and hugged him after the game, and the pitcher accepted the words graciously. The two were back together on Thursday before the next game between the teams, meeting at home plate as Galarraga gave Joyce the Tigers' lineup card. Joyce wiped away tears when he took the field.
"I think it's tremendously heartening to see somebody understand that they made a mistake and somebody accept the apology from somebody who made that mistake," Gibbs said. "I think that's a good lesson in baseball. It's probably a good lesson in Washington."
There have been only 20 perfect games in the storied history of Major League Baseball, which elevated the stakes of this one human error.
Gibbs said he had not talked to President Barack Obama about the matter. When asked if he was speaking on behalf of himself or the president in saying what baseball should do, Gibbs said to some laughter: "I'm speaking with the full weight of the federal government."