Frustrated by the numbers

Updated: June 3, 2010, 2:25 PM ET
By Buster Olney

The retirement of Ken Griffey Jr. and the "Perfect Game That Wasn't" -- two monumental events that occurred within hours of each other -- will float forever in parallel baseball universes.

We want to say that Ken Griffey Jr. was the greatest of his generation; we want to explain how he was the best of his time. But we are frustrated by numbers. Barry Bonds played in the same era as Griffey and hit 132 more homers than Griffey, scored more runs, drove in more runs, accumulated more walks and more MVP Awards.

The presumption is that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs and Griffey Jr. did not, but we don't know, not exactly, what was used or when or what the impact any drugs had.

We want to say that Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game. But we are frustrated by the numbers: A perfect game is facing 27 batters and getting 27 outs -- but the fact is that rightly or wrongly, Jason Donald reached first base with two outs in the ninth inning. Galarraga faced 28 batters, not 27, and one of them reached base. He deserved a perfect game; he did not throw a perfect game.

We are frustrated by the numbers.