Unbelievable call, unbelievable reaction

Everybody has weighed in on Jim Joyce’s blown call ruining Armando Galarraga’s perfect game by now, so I’ll keep it short, since nothing I write here is bound to be particularly novel.
I don’t think Bud Selig should grant him the perfect game.  It sets a dangerous precedent in correcting high-profile umpire errors, which could affect situations with far greater implications than a personal achievement, as heartbreaking as it is.
Besides, I think there’s a lesson.  As much as I couldn’t believe how badly Joyce blew that call, Galarraga’s immediate reaction shocked me more:

This would be the 15th face I would make if I were in his shoes.
He smiled. It was slight, it was pained, but it was a smile.
Miguel Cabrera kept barking at Joyce as Galarraga was on his way to recording the 28th out, and Gerald Laird and Jim Leyland let Joyce hear it on the field as the Tigers rushed out in a halfhearted celebration.
Galarraga didn’t say anything until after the game, when he hugged Joyce to console him.
He had every reason to go Ozzie-grade ballistic on Joyce, and Joyce, who was flagellating himself after the game, would have taken it.
But Galarraga took it in stride, instead.  That amazes me.  The guy has his chance for baseball immortality yanked away from him by the most unfair, gut-wrenching means available, and his first reaction is to recognize the cruel humor of it all.
It might not mean much to Galarraga, but given the recent runs at perfection, he found a way to make his night stand out even more.  Twenty years from now, I’ll probably remember that Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay threw perfect games, but I won’t remember anything about them.
Galarraga, meanwhile, won’t go on the wall in the museum in Cooperstown, with a game ball in front of a brightly colored tile bearing his black-and-white face, the score and the date.  But he was perfect, and the way he dealt with one of the great stomach punches of all time was even better.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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I agree with you on Galarraga. I’m going to disagree with you, and the many people who have voiced similar sentiments, that a reversal sets a dangerous precedent. I think the same argument could be made about Brett’s pine tar home run, where a ruling of course was overturned. For calls that could end games to be overturned so that a game is ended doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me.
I also hope that this finally gets instant replay into the majors. There seem to have been a lot more bad calls lately, but I don’t think the umpiring is worse. It’s just that everyone at home can see it on TV, everyone in the booths can see the replay, and everyone in the stadium can probably see it on a video scoreboard. It’s a disservice to the umpires to keep them the least informed of the play when they should be the most informed. I don’t think it has to be anything like in the NFL either, where everything stops for ten minutes while they stare at a small tv screen under a hood. Just an official in a booth with an hd feed from the cameras, double checking balls that bounce near the line and close plays. He could easily radio the result down to the field before the next batter steps to the plate. The booth umpire doesn’t even have to be definitive- he could just be another voice, someone who can get looks at the play from different angles.
I’m not trying to advocate the use of computers to judge balls and strikes or anything like that (though if tennis can computerize a line judge baseball should be able to do something similar for the foul lines), but I don’t think the charm of the human element in baseball extends to keeping umpires in the dark or enforcing clearly bad calls. In the end, umpires end up seeing their blown calls on replay after the game, and wishing that they’d been able to make the right call. Baseball needs to stop standing in the way of umpires and give them the tools they need to do their jobs as well as possible.


Agreed – If this doesn’t stir meaningful discussion what will? Live it was quick, but in slow motion it was obvious. Instant replay for base-running issues time has come.


Actually, I think hockey does it similar to baseball, in that in-game replays are used for goals only.


well said jim


Didn’t watch the game last night (watched the Blackhawks instead). I wonder if Paulie’s HRs will make the Angels go after him even more.


Great take on the reaction from Gallaraga being one for the ages. I just now saw the replays and everyone can see the umpire blew the call. However, in real time and without the benefit of slow motion instant replay, it truly was a bang-bang play. The umpire’s post game comments and reaction were equally impressive to me. I watch a helluva lot of baseball and I can’t say I know much about or have noticed Joyce before tonight. That tells me he is a damn good umpire and he is also a stand up guy for admitting he blew the biggest call of his career. Too bad it happened but I’ll remember his reaction as much as Gallaraga’s.


Joe West still thinks Joyce got the call right.


Jim; Touching essay on Galloraga’s reaction. My sentiments, exactly. Great job.


just a matter of time: galarraga and joyce signing balls together at card shows….


You nailed it, Jim. My roommate came home shortly after the game ended and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to describe Galarraga’s facial reactions to him. It was a strange, haunting moment of shock and understanding, and I’ll never forget it.
I feel bad for everyone.


“Nobodies perfect” Armando Galarraga
To me that was the classiest thing I have ever heard anyone say.
Immortality was taken away from him and Galarraga kept in perspective that this is just a game and the most important stat was the W.
I wouldn’t have handled it the same.


Hawks lose, and a huge blown call in the mlb thank god for distractions cuase the whitesox were dogshit again. Gavin Floyd has freaking lost it, floyd the headcase is back!


Those were some mighty, fat, juicy meatballs being tossed last night, let me tell you.


Agree with everything said about Galarraga, but Joyce gets a hat tip just as much. It takes a lot of class to stand up in front of everybody and admit you made that big of a mistake.


Yeah. I’m just remembering the whole CC Sabathia fiasco in MWKE


Jim, I almost want to hug Galarraga after reading your story. And I am not gay. (I’m not. Well, my wife says I am, but what does she know.) What a sweet and classy kid. The reaction after the game was even better than the smile. Even Leyland was classy (though he probably was doing it out of not wanting to go to replay – traditionalist that he is).
For one night I was a Tigers fan. (Unsheathes knife, points towards own belly. Prays silently.)


Great writeup Jim.
Lets not forget the class of Joyce. It takes a grown ass individual to go an admit that he was wrong and apologize face to face.
I was watching the Hawks game and didn’t hear about this till later.
Oh and that Sox really really suck…


Reminds of the greatest perfect game never pitched, May 26 1959, Harvey Haddix, 36 straight Braves (Aaron, Mathews) retired.
Haddix’s comments after the game, which he lost on an unearned run in the 13th, were similar: “My main aim was to win. I was more tired than nervous. All I know is that we lost. What’s so historic about that? Didn’t anyone else ever lose a thirteen inning shutout?”