An umpire’s nightmare
Post Independent intern
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
On Wednesday, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga retired 26 straight Cleveland Indians through 8 2/3 innings. He then allowed a ground ball to the first baseman, who made the routine throw to Galarraga at first base to complete a perfect game – but first-base umpire Jim Joyce called the runner safe.
Replay showed the call wrong, and heartbreak is what ensued.
Heartbreak not only for the 28-year-old pitcher, heartbreak not only for the game of baseball, which would have had its third perfect game in one month, but also heartbreak for umpire Jim Joyce.
As a certified basketball official and from working the game for five years, I can tell you that Jim Joyce is living an umpire’s nightmare.
In a profession where the only compliments you receive are from your partners, who are the only other people getting yelled at, your main goal is to get the call right and walk of the court/field/ice with the spotlight on the team that won, the player that shined, or the play that made the game.
You do not want the spotlight on a call that changed history. You do not want the spotlight on a call that overshadows the retirement of one of the game’s best.
Joyce, unfortunately, made the call that stopped baseball from its third perfect game in one month, or most perfect games in one season, ever. He made the call that took the sports headlines from Ken Griffey Jr.’s last game.
After making the call, he showed regret and sorrow about the call that will define his 21-year career as an MLB umpire, which includes working two World Series.
Immediately after seeing the replay, he did the right thing and admitted his mistake.
“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” he said.
When you find out you’re wrong on a call like that, you are shocked. You do not know if you should quit your job, if your colleagues will stop trusting you, if managers are going to attack you, or even if you’re safe leaving the stadium.
You do not know what to do next.
Joyce dubbed it the biggest call of his career, expressed doubt on how to make it better and apologized and said he “just blew it.”
Bud Selig has a chance to hit a home run as commissioner by enacting the “best interest of the game clause” he owns, reversing the call and rewarding Galarraga the perfect game.
No one strikes out if Selig gives Galarraga the perfect game. The pitcher gets what he earned after retiring 27 – 28, actually – batters straight. The history books will be correct, and Jim Joyce gets the relief that the right call was made in the end.
With the call reversed, Jim Joyce’s heartbreak is fixed, and the veteran can go on making the right calls in the game he loves.
Kevin Keller is an intern for the Post Independent.
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