By Bob Hurst

Although Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig probably won’t change the call, the court of public opinion gives Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

Galarraga is the Detroit Tigers pitcher who threw a perfect game no-hitter last Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians, on replay at least. First base umpire Jim Joyce ruled baserunner Jason Donald safe on the play, but later admitted he blew the call after watching the replay.

The next day, Selig praised the sportsmanship displayed by Joyce and Galarraga, but an MLB spokesman said that the commissioner would not reverse the call.

Selig’s office in New York received many calls from fans expressing their displeasure, and were given an e-mail address to voice their opinion. ESPN.com ran a poll the day after the game, and at one point, 76 percent (106,297 votes) voted that Selig should overrule the call on the play.

In a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted last Thursday, 64 percent said that MLB should overturn Joyce’s call.

“Given (Wednesday’s) call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features,” Selig said last week.

But veteran baseball manager Tony La Russa said that he’d give Galarraga a perfect game.

“If I was Mr. Selig, in the best interest of the game, the guy’s got it and I’d give him his perfect game.”

But on Monday, Selig didn’t sound too interested in changing the call.

“In this job, precedence is very important,” Selig said. “A lot of people don’t really understand that. But it is important. I’ve had clubs call me and say, ‘What about that game I lost, why didn’t you think about doing that?’ And they were serious.

“Of course, you open Pandora’s Box (by reversing a call). You may think you haven’t, but you have. I meant what I said in the statement, I’m just going to take a look at everything. In the end, I’ll make the decision. I am a traditionalist, but I also want to do what I think is best for the sport.”

Harper is top pick: The Washington Nationals have found gold again in the draft.

Just a year after selecting pitcher Stephen Strasburg as the major leagues first overall pick, the Washington Nationals chose 17-year-old slugger Bryce Harper as the No. 1 choice in Monday’s draft.

“It’s what I’ve wanted since I was 7 years old,” Harper said.

What a bonus for the Nationals, one of the majors worst teams over the past two seasons.

“It’s all coming together,” Nationals president Stan Kasten said. “We think by the end of the year we will have turned the corner. We will be a competitive team, largely on the strength of player development and scouting.

Harper, a catcher at the College of Southern Nevada, is a power hitter who will be groomed as an outfielder in the Nationals organization.

“We’re going to take the rigor and the pressures of learning the position, the difficult position of catcher, away from him,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “(We’ll) really let him concentrate on the offensive part of the game.”

Harper, who was featured in a Sports Illustrated article while still in high school, hit .443 with 31 home runs and 98 RBIs in his first season in college.

“Anywhere they need me, I’ll play,” Harper said. “I just want to make it and we’ll see what happens when I get there.”

The Nationals now have their work cut out for them in trying to sign Harper, who will seek a record contract through agent Scott Boras. They have until Aug. 16 to sign Harper, who has said that he might return to Southern Nevada if negotiations break down.

StatsWatch: Here are the top strikeout pitchers in the majors (through Monday) –

Tim Lincecum, Giants, 89

Dan Haren, Diamondbacks, 88

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays, 86

Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, 85

Jered Weaver, Angels, 83

Quotable: “Just in case you guys were wondering, I did not get any more gray today.” — Baltimore Orioles manager Juan Samuel, after his first major league win on Sunday, ending the team’s 10-game losing streak.

Diamond Notes: Tampa Bay pitcher Matt Garza won for the first time in a month as the Rays beat Texas 9-5 on Sunday…Royals pitcher Brian Bannister has won a career-high five straight starts…Carlos Silva (8-0) allowed four hits with five strikeouts and one walk in a 6-1 win over the Pirates on Monday. Silva is the first Cubs starter to go 8-0 since Ken Holtzman went 9-0 in 1967.

Copyright © 2010  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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