Major League Baseball had never had two perfect games in one season prior to 2010, yet, incredibly, there should have been a third perfect game recorded this evening — except for a brutally bad call by 1B ump Jim Joyce with two outs in the top of the ninth inning in Detroit.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Cleveland Indians SS Jason Donald hit a ground ball to the right of Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera, who fielded the ball cleanly and underhanded the ball to starting pitcher Armando Galarraga for what should have been the third out.
The right-hander had clearly beaten Donald to the bag, except that Joyce did not see it that way.
He emphatically called the batter safe on the play.
The Detroit Tigers argued vehemently on the play and a chorus of boos echoed throughout Comerica Park.
And despite the trend in baseball over recent years for umpires to seek help from others within their crew on close calls, Joyce — in his arrogance — did not ask for help. (That’s not to say the other umps would have helped him get the call right, but it couldn’t have hurt.)
But later, a repentant Joyce apologized and admitted his mistake. Too late, Jim, maybe you should have asked for help right away. But n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, not you!
The umpire, in an attempt to assuage his guilt, later asked for and was granted permission to speak with Galarraga.
In tears, he hugged the pitcher and apologized for his gaffe: “It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the shit out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought (Donald) beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”
Hey, Jim, you knew what was on the line at the time! You should have asked for help at the time, as opposed to strutting like a peacock — so full of your exactitude in the matter.
You were “convinced,” huh?
You are right about one thing, though. You DID cost the kid a perfect game.
Galaragga, rising above the disappointment of the moment, said: “You don’t see an umpire after the game come out and say, 'Hey, let me tell you I’m sorry.' He felt really bad. He didn’t even shower.”
Classy move, kid. It’s really too bad Joyce didn’t show the same class on the field at the all-important moment and ask for some help on the play — which is sure to revive calls for expanded instant replay in baseball.
There was another thing at the ballpark that you don’t often see — a young man respond with grace and dignity in the midst of disappointment after having his once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment stolen from him.
Attaboy, Armando! I tip my cap to you…