Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jim Joyce screwed up. Deal with it.

Major League Baseball nearly had it's 3rd perfect game of the season on Wednesday night. Just typing that sentence makes me wonder what is happening in the bigs these days. A brilliant 88 pitch performance by Detroit's Armando Gallaraga won't be remembered for its mastery, but rather, a blown call on what would have been the final out.

Cleveland's Jason Donald's bouncer to the right side of the infield should have gone down as a 3-1 put-out. Instead, it will be remembered as an infield hit. Replays show Donald was out. Replays show that Gallaraga got to the bag to take the throw in plenty of time. Replays show his foot was on the bag, with the ball in his glove.

Joyce called him safe.

Gallaraga recorded the final out on the next batter, thus notching a one-hitter. The debate has raged all day. Baseball should step in and overturn the ruling. Gallaraga deserves the perfect game.

Stop the madness. The call on the field stands. Move on.

Human error has been a part of the game since its inception. Umpires don't always get it right. However, more often than not, the calls they make are correct. How many times have you watched a game, either at home on tv or in the stands, and disagreed with a ball or strike call? Same thing. Think of how many times in a game the pitcher comes off the mound to cover first. Think of how non-routine that play can be. The pitcher can miss the bag. The throw from the first baseman can be off the mark. The batter hustling up the line. There is a lot going on. The term "bang-bang play" applies here. The umpire doesn't have the benefit of multiple camera angle replays. He has to make that call at that moment. More often than not, that ump will get the call right.

Joyce is a 22-year veteran umpire. He has worked a pair of World Series, 11 League Championship Series, and was voted as the 2nd best umpire in all of baseball by the players in 2006. His resume is impressive to say the least.

Yet for all the accolades, and solid work he has put in, he got the one call wrong that cost a pitcher in his 3rd year as a starter, a perfect game. I feel worse for Joyce than I do for Gallaraga.

This event has forced Commissioner Bud Selig to re-evaluate the umpiring system, and to look further into the use of instant-replay. He has to say these things, due to the outcry over one blown call at the worst possible time. To me, it's an over-reaction. The game is fine. There is no need to re-evaluate the job the guys in the blue shirts do. They do their jobs very well.

Something to think about here. What if Donald had actually beaten the throw, but was called out? What would you be saying today about Jim Joyce? You would be calling him unethical, and biased. What you can call him today, after admitting his mistake, is a professional.

Mike Solarte

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