Jim Joyce Gives New Meaning To Perfection
Originally published in the Now Defunct: Two On One Out | 02 June 2010
An hour and forty-four minutes is the time it takes to go from beleaguered AAA pitcher, to a man who flirted with perfection.
Let’s retract that.
An hour and forty-four minutes is the time it takes to go from beleaguered AAA pitcher, to a man who threw a perfect game.
And don’t let Jim Joyce try to tell you otherwise.
In fact, he won’t even tell you otherwise.
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” I screamed as my hands flew to my face, I felt my knees and voice shake with disbelief and thoughts of “Well, they’re going to change the rules for instant replay now,” went through my head as I witnessed the unbelievable play unfold.
I stood there and watched as Miguel Cabrera and Jim Joyce jawed at each other, I stood there and watched the game end on another weak ground ball, I stood there and watched Jim Leyland scream at the entire umpiring crew and shook my head as they just listened. Because each and every one knew that they had not only just blown a call, but a call that destroyed a perfect game.
Questions are being asked, opinions are being stated, and Jim Joyce is now thrust onto the worst kind of national stage that any human being can ask for.
So what went through his head? How did a man with 22 years of professional experience blow a call that he makes 99.99 percent of the time?
What was he thinking as he saw Jason Donald fly down the line, as Cabrera ranged to his right, lead the ball towards Armando Galarraga who arrived at first, caught it in the webbing of his glove, let it slide into the pocket, and step on first milliseconds before Donald’s foot touched the base.
What did he really see on a play that he was in perfect position to call? What was he thinking?
He was thinking that he didn’t want to blow the call, call Donald out, and find out afterwards that people are claiming he just gave the Tiger’s the game on a controversial play.
So, he wasn’t sure and called him safe.
But the problem was, the play wasn’t really that close.
It’s a call that has simply stunned the baseball—and really, the sports—world.
Jim Joyce denied Armando Galarraga and the Tiger’s a feat that is so unreal that it can even crack a grin on the face of Roy Halladay.
What has he done (And I’m sure he’s asking himself that question)?
You can play it off as human error, but how much can you give a man who, after 22 years in baseball, has made himself the new Bill Buckner of baseball.
In doing so, he may have changed the face of baseball going forward.
We are going to hear screams upon screams of protests for instant replay over the next few weeks and months, and perhaps, until the commissioner responds. That is justified, because never before have we had a circumstance like this.
Let’s try to break this down.
Three perfect games in a month.
What are the odds? Seriously, what are the odds?
This would have been an unbelievable feat in major league baseball and because Joyce froze and tried to show how unbiased he was by blowing the call, he has stripped baseball of unprecedented attention.
But at the same time, the attention that will be thrust upon Joyce will be unprecedented as well, and we won’t even be able to comprehend how much stress and pressure that he is now under; The entire nation knows that he blew the call, and for that, how can baseball discipline the man. They can’t because he made a simple mistake that in any other situation would be simply shrugged off.
But on this stage, with these circumstances, the call was inexcusable. If he was not sure, he should have pointed toward home or second or third for confirmation. If he was not sure, let another umpire make the call, it happens more often than people realize.
But he did not and he ruined a great thing for Armando Galarraga, the Detroit Tigers, the fans, and the entire baseball community tonight, and that is what his legacy will be.
Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game tonight and he did not get credit for it.
That’s all anyone will talk about as they shake their heads and wait to see how this situation unfolds.
Media’s initial take: