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Jim Joyce will be living with this call forever

Jun 2, 2010, 10:30 PM EDT

Jim Joyce.jpgJim Joyce screwed up, no question.  But because there is no replay in Major League Baseball outside of home run calls, he is unable to have the benefit of a second set of eyes or a second chance that just about all of us have in our jobs.  He’s in the worst place possible, really. Armando Galarraga got screwed out of his perfect game, but at least he has everyone’s sympathy. Joyce gets the scorn and there’s not a hell of a lot he can do about it.

In the coming days he will be an object of derision by fans and the media which will blow things totally out-of-proportion.  Within an hour of the blown call Joyce’s Wikipedia page was edited to include anti-Semitic comments and even a “date of death” of June 2, 2010.  Such things would be shocking if they weren’t so typical.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets more direct death threats than that one. Making me uneasy right now: Joyce is from Toledo and played ball at Bowling
Green State University. He still lives in Bowling Green, actually. Lots of Tigers fans up that
way.

The first person I thought of as this story was breaking a couple of hours ago was Don Denkinger.  He was the ump that called the Kansas City Royals’ Jorge Orta safe in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series when he clearly was out. The Royals were down 1-0 at the time and if that held up the Cardinals would have won the Series. They rallied, though, won the game 2-1 and went on to win Game 7.

A bit of a different situation here tonight as this game (a) was not as important as the World Series — in fact, it didn’t affect the outcome of the game one iota; and (b) it was the last out, so there wasn’t the same uncertainty that holds for how Game 6 would have unfolded.

But that’s not a big difference for Joyce. Like Denkinger, he’s going to have to live with this forever.  Indeed, as Joe Posnanski noted recently, Denkinger still, nearly 25 years later, gets boos and jeers over the call. Joyce will probably experience much the same.

Based on his comments after the game — and the fact that, according to
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick
, he went to the Tigers’ locker room and
apologized
to Armando Galarraga and Jim Leyland personally — he’s feeling it
already. He could have taken a defiant stance like we’ve seen so many
umpires take over the years. He could have said that the ball was
bobbled. He could have just bullheadedly insist that he saw what he saw
and that was that. But he didn’t. He has owned up to his mistake in the
only limited way he can.

But it really doesn’t matter, does it? Emotions will rule for the short term and the obvious narrative — Joyce screwed some young guy out of a perfect game — will set in for posterity.  I get that.

But I also feel pretty bad for Jim Joyce tonight. A man who made a mistake he can do nothing to fix and for which no apology will truly be accepted.

  1. Brian - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    Also, that’s not a very flattering picture. Guy just can’t get a break.

  2. Jimmy - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:41 PM

    Craig, thank you so much for using your position to explain how Joyce feels in this situation. I simply cannot believe the hatred being spewed at the man. For anyone to claim that this is something Joyce wanted is simply ignorant. This isn’t Joe West, I don’t think Joyce wants to be the story today and for the many days (years?) afterward, he made a mistake. People are saying what a monumental mistake it was, but the fact is that if this happened in the first inning, it would go down as just that, a mistake. Just because it was the last out of a perfect game doesn’t change that. To claim that because it was the last out of a perfect game he MUST get the call right is to assume that he isn’t doing his best to make the correct call on every other play of the game. Joyce made the call he thought appropriate, and I’d like to think he would have called him safe had it been in the 1st, 3rd, 5th, or any other inning in the game. He made the call, it was wrong, and the fact that it was on the final out of a perfect game is unfortunate and heartbreaking, but not malicious.

  3. J Rose - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    Whew, this incident has certainly been good for the page views at least! I skimmed through the other posts and comments and it looks like I’m in the minority, along with a few other commenters. I don’t believe we need instant replay across the board, but def. some sort of expansion of the home run calls. But to go back and overrule the call now and award the perfect game? No effing way. If that were to happen, you would have to reverse every bad call in the history of the game, right?
    Here’s a few novel ideas for Bud: have the umpires DO THEIR JOBS CORRECTLY. Retrain them. Encourage more on field cooperation, make them accountable by penalizing them publicly, and get guys who WANT to make sure the call is correct, not just be a part of the show.

  4. Ron - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    You’re right that there was no instant replay for this situation. BUT, it is perfectly legal for an umpire to confer with other umpires.

  5. Philip Tortora - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig absolutely has to apply common sense here, and award Armando Galaragga a perfect game. Selig must use his authoritative powers and overrule the blown call by Jim Joyce
    http://philiptortora.blogspot.com/2010/06/major-league-baseball-should-reverse.html

  6. kyle s - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    instead of a celebration of a perfect game it’s a pity party for an umpire. i’m sick of hearing about umpires.
    he ruined something that would have been huge for a lot of people. it’s his job to get important calls right and he didn’t do his job. i have no sympathy.

  7. Jimmy - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:53 PM

    See, I was thinking the same thing. I wonder what the other umps on the field thought of the play. Did anyone know it was the wrong call immediately? If so, why didn’t someone say something? I believe, from his reaction, that Joyce thought he made the right call, maybe that’s why he didn’t attempt to confer, but can’t one of the other umpires get involved to get the call right? I’m sure we’ll never know what the others were thinking, but it’s a valid question for sure.

  8. J Rose - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:53 PM

    Good point. I think the the way everyone involved reacted should be used as an example of how to handle tough situations with dignity and class. From Galarraga to Joyce to the Tigers players, they handled it just about as well as anyone could, and much better than the fans are. They are trying to set an example, yet the angy mob doesn’t seem to be following their lead.

  9. J Rose - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM

    So do you think Game 6 of the 1985 World Series should be replayed also? I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks the outcome of games should be overturned after the fact is not using common sense himself.

  10. doug - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    The problem with this piece is that Jim Joyce’s feelings are meaningless compared to the feelings of Armando Galarraga who, through no fault of his own, had his victory stolen in a way that frankly appears to be almost intentional.
    In short: why should we car how Jim Joyce “feels?”

  11. Mike G. - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:08 AM

    I think it’s classy that Joyce apologized for the call. That being said, his behavior on the field both after the call and once the game ended should at the very least earn him a suspension from Major League Baseball. He acted and behaved like a man looking for a fight, baiting the Tigers seemingly at every opportunity. There was a time when umpires were trained to listen patiently to the manager or player’s complaints, explain the call, and then walk away from the player/manager. If the player/manager chased the ump, at that point the ump would typically throw the player/manager out of the game. We’ve reached the sad point in baseball where umpires seem to think it’s OK to yell and scream and practically taunt players in to fighting with them. I know I’m not the first one to say this, but I don’t go to games or watch them on TV to watch an umpire yell and scream. If a player or coach crossed some sort of line with Joyce, he should have tossed him. Otherwise, Joyce should have behaved with the decorum that umpires are supposed to behave with as the arbiters of the game. Shame on Joyce, not so much for the call but for his childish antics afterward.

  12. Cru11 - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    After watching the replay 45 times, I think we should all give credit to Galarraga for keeping his cool after the call was made. It seems to me that alot of MLB pitchers would have gone absolute apeshit and thrown a huge tantrum. Hats off to Armando for being mature and going back to the mound to finish the job.

  13. DugoutNut - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    http://www.firejimjoyce.com
    No joke. Somebody already has the site up.

  14. judi - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    I didn’t see any antics by Joyce after the call so I’m not sure what Mike is talking about. But I do kind of agree with Kyle, the one who deserves our sympathy is Galarraga. They’re already calling it a “near perfect” game on Baseball Tonight. No, it was a perfect game, if not for a bogus call on the very last out. Galaragga seems like a fantastic guy and good for him for being able to forgive Joyce so quickly, but I cannot help but think he will forever think about what should have been. Just a sad, sad way for his night to end.

  15. J Rose - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    Have you heard Galarraga’s feelings on the subject? He shrugged it off, saying everyone makes mistakes and he felt bad about how bad Joyce felt about blowing the call. So my question is, if the guy who had the injustice happen to him is so forgiving, why are people who aren’t even affected by it at all so outraged?

  16. Jimmy - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    I must have missed this. Joyce was yelling and screaming? Cabrera was continually jawing with him and Joyce seemed to let him go. To expect him not to respond is crazy. From what I could tell he was saying to Cabrera that he couldn’t just “give it to him.” Leyland and the absolutely psychotic Laird were going at Joyce pretty good at the end of the game and Joyce never seemed to be taunting anyone. In my opinion, Leyland and Laird should be the only ones charged with not upholding any sort of decorum. Given the situation, however, I don’t think anyone should be blamed for their actions on the field. This was a completely unique circumstance that is unfortunate for everyone involved.

  17. excatcher - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:25 AM

    If Cabrera lets that grounder go to Guillen, who can easily make the play, it’s not even a close call.

  18. Nick - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    I feel for Joyce because he owned up to the mistake and apologized. But no matter what, he will never live this down and that’s unfortunate. No one deserves to have one mistake in a freakin’ game define their life.

  19. peteinfla - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    Well, we all know it was a teriible call, and personally, I would have no problem with MLB allowing instant replay if it helps them get calls right.
    More importantly, you have to give Joyce some credit though for admitting that he blew the call, acknowledging that it was the call of his career and would be his legacy, and for apologizing to the players involved. Any body can make a mistake, even a critical one like he did, but not too many people have the capacity to stand up, admit thier error and be accountable. I wnet from being irate to having alot of respect for how he handled it afterwards.

  20. yodan57 - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    Here’s an idea: The Tigers should file an official protest. The Royals were able to file a protest and win for the pine tar incident–an event that affected the outcome of a game, mind you. If the league can take back the ruling then, they can do it now.
    While it won’t change what happened, everyone involved can move on and put this to rest.

  21. MerkleBoner - Jun 3, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    This is the worst mistake a baseball guy is gonna have to live with since the Merkle Boner.

  22. Thomas - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    Bowling Green is my hometown and Bowling Green State University my alma mater. It makes me feel pretty good that any f*ck up I’ll have in the future will likely never compare to Joyce’s botch. Therefore, there will always be a bigger, more embarrassing f*ck up from BG and BGSU than I. Weight off my shoulders.

  23. Michael - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    Geez louise, Craig. Go to bed. You need some perspective.
    Hey, I have an idea! One of the brightest lights of MLB’s golden era of the ’90s (yes it was) retired today. Maybe a little something on that…

  24. Eric - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:38 AM

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447505027#!/group.php?gid=127390487286162&ref=mf

  25. Eric - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:39 AM

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447505027#!/group.php?gid=127390487286162&ref=mf

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