Imperfection One Year Later: Who Was Right and Who Was Wrong

Matt Sheehan@@MattSheehan333Analyst IJune 2, 2011

photo creds to:
photo creds to:

Twenty-eight consecutive outs, two men and one giant mistake.

Exactly one year to this day, the most infamous call in baseball history was made when veteran umpire Jim Joyce toke a perfect game away from young pitcher Armando Galarraga and sent the world of baseball into a tizzy.

It was a regular day in Detroit, or so we thought, when the Tigers were facing the Cleveland Indians.

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth inning under the lights and the nation saw the most unlikely Tiger starter on his way to becoming one of the most improbable perfect game pitchers ever.

At this point, we all know what happened next.

Galarraga gets Indians shortstop Jason Donald to hit a weak ground ball to first, and in a flawless play Miguel Cabrera tosses the ball to Galarraga who stomps on first base just in the nick of time, but Joyce didn’t see it that way. Safe was the call, boos showered the umpire, and newspapers around the country had their sports headline set up for the next morning.

People were in rage, dozens of Facebook groups calling for Joyce's firing were immediately set up, and baseball history would be changed for eternity.

Now that one whole year has passed since the horrific incident, it’s time to break down who was right, who was wrong, and what we learned from the imperfect game.


Who was Right

Armando Galarraga

Seriously, could he have played this whole ordeal off any better? Did he argue with Joyce? No. Did he chew him out in the press conference after the game? No. Did he raise bedlam in order to get the call reversed? No.

What Galarraga did was show the whole sporting world what it means to be a good sport and accept that mistakes are made. He also showed that once the disaster happened, it was time to buck up and finish the game, not stand on the mound and mope.

Jim Joyce

This may seem odd, but hear me out. After the game what did Joyce do? He went immediately to the film room, saw that he made the wrong call, and then invited reporters into his locker room.

Now I’ll be damned if there is a staggering number of umpires that would answer questions to reporters, let alone look at the replay the minute the game ends.

Not only did he answer questions, but he accepted full responsibility for the call and didn’t blame anyone or any other factor for his error.

He said the right words, showed a lot of remorse, and heck, he even went out to ump the very next game in Detroit. Now that takes courage and dignity.

Miguel Cabrera

My number one pet peeve from this night has to be fans that were saying, “Well Cabrera shouldn’t have fielded that ball anyway.”

OK, that may have made that play an easier call, but bottom line is that he still got him out, right?

Cabrera was right to field that ball, it was shown from the replay that he got the out, so why dispute over a decision that ended up being the right one?

The fans

Right when the call was made, the fans booed and jeered the poor umpire, and all fans would have done that I’m assuming. That, however, is not what makes them the good guys in this situation.

The very next day Joyce was asked if he wanted to sit the game out because of backlash from the fans he may receive.

Like what was said earlier, he opted to call the game, and when he came out he got a pleasant surprise. The fans of Detroit gave him a standing ovation. Sure there were some hecklers, but for the most part it was applause and whistling for Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga.


Who was Wrong

Bud Selig

When will this guy ever leave? Seriously.

Anyway, the one and only guy who had the chance to turn this whole escapade around blew his one and only chance. His reasoning was that it would change too much of the past and it would require games played over the years to have different outcomes.

Really? Did this change who won the game? Is there some series of scorebooks out there that have this same situation that would take months to review? I’m going to go out of limb and so no to both of these questions, and pin Bud Selig as the biggest loser to come out of the imperfect game.

Jim Joyce

He still got the call wrong, and that’s what puts him under this column too. Other than the split second decision, he belongs in the “Who was Right” section.

Jason Donald

Alright, I’m not that serious about this one, so don’t spit that drink out just yet.

Come on Donald, this is history we’re working with, no need to bust your butt to get over to first base.

And why can’t you be like any other major leaguer and take a leisurely stroll down to first after a ground out instead of doing your best Usain Bolt impression?

Your killing me Donald, your killing me.

What we learned

We all know mistakes happen, but some can be a lot bigger than others.

What Joyce and Galarraga displayed was a brilliant example of how to forgive and forget and accept responsibility for your actions.

Hopefully this episode never happens again, but if it does we should all hope that both parties show the same traits as Mr. Joyce and Mr. Galarraga.