Perfect Game Blown Call: Jim Joyce Ruins History, Armando Galarraga's Perfecto

Thomas KnappContributor IJune 3, 2010

On this day, one of baseball's truly great players finally succumbed to the inevitable, and called it a career.

630 Home Runs.

2781 Hits.

A career .284 batting average.

10 Gold Gloves.

Quite possibly the only surefire first ballot Hall of Famer in this era called it a career after 22 years.  Quite possibly the only elite player of this era that has managed to avoid the steroid implications and scandals retired from the game.

He should have been the headline tonight, even over a Stanley Cup Final game.

Even over a perfect game.

Instead, the moment that should have been his was cruelly and unwittingly taken away by human error... and much like Armando Galarraga, Ken Griffey Jr. can't have that moment back.

For what its worth, Jim Joyce doesn't deserve the spite and the rage and the threats that are most assuredly being thrown his way.  He has been a highly respected umpire for 22 years, considered one of the best and most upright in the sport.

Yes, he made a bad call.  He even owns up to it.  He even goes as far as to say he would have been the first one in his face after a call like that.

I don't even blame the "purists" who are another easy target for the vitriol.  There is something to be said for the days gone by, warts and all.  I suspect a lot of people wish that a lot of things in the last twenty years of "advancement" could be rolled back.

And, with apologies in advance for the jarring change in topic, I want to extend a sound round of applause to Galarraga in what has to be one of the most bitter moments of his life. 

To have history stolen from you in such horrible fashion... to have the story of a lifetime ripped from your hands by powers beyond your control after you did everything right...

Imagine Cinderella where, instead of the Prince putting on that magic slipper, he has it shatter in his hands.

Or to borrow a more sports apt tale: Imagine Hoosiers, where the final shot is wiped off the board due to a clock malfunction.

That is the analogy of how Armando Galarraga's perfection was taken away.

And yet, at that horrible junction in time, he not only retires the next batter without a snarl, but handled the entire incident with a class and dignity and respect in which 99.9999% of human beings in that situation would have completely come unhinged.

Could you imagine how Curt Shilling would have handled that?  The grounds crew might still be looking for all of Joyce's teeth.

Had that been Nolan Ryan, police might still be dragging the Detroit River for Joyce's body .

A historic moment lost, and Armando Galaragga responded to it with consummate professionalism.  If anything good and honest and pure can be taken from this, the quality of man that Galaragga proved to be is that very thing.

Yes, the moment has been lost.  But that doesn't mean that nothing can or should be done.

Baseball has taken unusual steps in the past to right obviously poor decisions.  The "Pine Tar" incident is one such example.  The precedent of going back and correcting a mistake on the field has already been made.

I would appeal to Bug Selig, for the good of the sport, to have the official scorecard read what it should read: the first perfect game in Detroit Tigers' history.

This isn't about replay.  This isn't even about the quality of umpires in Major League Baseball.

This is about righting an obvious wrong, and reclaiming as much as can be claimed of a lost moment.

I'm sorry, Ken.  I'm sorry it happened like this.  You deserved better on your final day.

We all did.