Jim Joyce is a guy most baseball fans don't know . . . until tonight. He will live in infamy with the likes of Don Denkinger after calling Jason Donald safe at first in what would have been the last out of a perfect game for Armando Galarraga (the Little Cat?).
Watching live, I actually thought he was safe. Watching the replay, he was clearly out. I wondered if the ump thought Galarraga bobbled the ball. There was no question the pitcher beat the batter to the base and the ball was to his glove. In fact, the ump hesitated a moment and Galaraga kind of flipped his glove to secure the ball. I'm interested to hear what the ump says. I was watching the Cleveland broadcast and they didn't mention it. In fact, they gave no indication other than Joyce blew the call. The Indians' announcer went as far to say this play changed his mind about instant replay; he's now for it.
You need a little luck to pitch a perfect game, and Galarraga got a little, when a ground ball bounced off his foot and Brandon Inge was able to field it at third and throw out the runner. You also need help, which Galarraga got in the form of a great catch by Austin Jackson leading off the ninth.
He didn't get help from Miguel Cabrera who played the Donald grounder very tentatively (as if he were nervous) and threw very softly to first. Maybe he should have let Carlos Guillen field it at second, but that's a tough call. He should have been a little more aggressive, though. Obviously, it was unlucky for the ump to blow the final call. (I have an interesting theory. The black cloud followed me home from Vegas. I didn't turn on the game until Donald came to bat.)
The most troubling thing, other than the umpire blowing the call, was his aggressiveness (Update: on t.v. Leyland just said the ump told him Donald just beat him to the bag -- nice, the ump can't change his approach -- man, Leyland is being incredibly gracious with the media.) after the play. Joyce was very demonstrative and yelling at the Tigers' dugout. That was way out of line. Basically, the umpires are out of control. After last season's debacle that was the post season, the umpires should be more willing to let the players argue. Instead, they are continuing to push themselves into the spotlight. This is unacceptable. We've already seen numerous instances of the umpires acting inappropriately on and off the field.
MLB wants to implement all of these changes to speed up the game. All MLB really needs to do is enforce the strike zone and the game will be plenty fast.
The best part of all of this; Galarraga handled himself like a pro. He gave a smirk is all to the umpire. Then he pitched out of the wind-up. He started from the stretch and then moved to the wind-up, which I took as an unwillingness to acknowledge the umpire's mistake. The runner stole second and third, but he got the next guy to ground out. He never said anything to the umpire. Complete class on his part
By the way, Jr. retired today. I've been formulating a blog post on my displeasure with Jr. ever since I started blogging. I promise to get it up soon as a reaction to the retirement announcement.
UPDATE: Galarraga's on t.v. saying Joyce apologized to him, everyone's human, and no one is perfect. That is classy. Joyce apologizing is okay, but he needs to call for the umps to be less aggressive and call for replay under this circumstance. I'll do more on replay later.
Mike Mussina, Hall of Famer
4 weeks ago