Nobody’s Perfect

The title of the post comes from Armando Galarraga himself in discussing the blown call by Jim Joyce which cost Galarraga a perfect game. That says it all doesn’t it? It speaks to the game, to the call, to everything. There’s no getting around the frustration in this one. A game in which pretty much everyone feels awful when it is done.

Galarraga was sublime in his composure throughout the evening. He never wavered, commanding all of his pitches. He barely even threatened to walk a batter, only once getting to 3 balls in a plate appearance. That he threw a complete game in 88 pitches is a feat in and of itself. When Austin Jackson made a terrific running play on Mark Grudzielanek‘s shot leading off the 9th inning, Galarraga merely grinned slightly. But never was that composure more evident than in Galarraga’s immediate reaction to the call and in the aftermath.

As for Joyce, he’s devastated as well though it is little consolation to most fans. Detroit sports writer Dave Hogg, @stareagle on Twitter, interviewed Joyce after the game. He tweeted some of Joyce’s quotes:

Joyce said he didn’t know if he would try to talk to Galarraga. “I don’t know what to do. I just cost that kid a perfect game.”

“Biggest call of my career, and I kicked the s**t out of it.”

“I don’t blame the Tigers for anything that was said. I don’t blame one person a bit.”

“If I were Galarraga, I would have been the first one in my face, and he didn’t say a word to me.”

The firestorm around instant replay has been launched as have calls for reversals, scoring decision changes, and Bud Selig overruling Joyce’s call and awarding Galarraga a perfect game. Only the former has a real chance of happening. The latter would set precedents that MLB likely isn’t eager to pursue.

As for my thoughts on instant replay, I don’t know right now. I haven’t been a big proponent of it. Joyce was asked about instant replay and on this we agree tonight: “He was asked about it and said that he was having trouble thinking about anything beyond what he had just done.”

That’s the shame of it all. We’re talking about the wrong things because Jim Joyce screwed up. We should be weaving story lines about Galarraga starting the year in the minors. And Alex Avila calling a perfect game in just his 46th game behind the dish. Instead at best we can think back to Milt Wilcox and Jerry Hairston in 1983, and at worst we’ll curse Joyce’s name and talk about what he took from Galarraga and the fans. One day we can even look back and view this game as the catalyst for expanded use of instant replay. But it will never feel right or good.

Congratulations Armando. You did everything you could, and you did it with the utmost class and composure.

66 thoughts on “Nobody’s Perfect”

  1. He is a good umpire , who missed a call. He handled it with class as did Armando and all the Tigers including Leyland.

  2. Disgusting. I know it won’t happen, but MLB should be ashamed of themselves if they don’t do something.

    The ironic part is Armando is less upset than me. Good guy. He mentioned in one interview that he will have another chance to throw a perfect game.

  3. Not good enough. This will be the first line of Joyce’s obit and well it should be. You train your whole life to be an ump and you blow the biggest call of your life. I’m glad he apologized, but man, you CAN’T blow that call. You just can’t.

  4. I’ll just throw this out there…Should Miggy have even gone after that ball? Do you think he got caught up in the moment too? If Guillen fields it there is no controversy.

    Don’t get me wrong, Joyce blew the call and Armando threw a gem, but I’m just asking…

    1. Both he and the SS are doing a little compensating for Carlos, I believe. Probably had enough confidence in himself that he would make the play. He did. Would hate to see Carlos muff the play or not get to the ball.

    2. Don’t get it twisted-

      Cabrera made the right play, it was easier for him and the guy was out by a step and a half, not even close. The ball was hit slow if it got thru Guillen would have had to hit a moving target on the run, Cabrera had time to stop take his time and make a good throw, which he did. You should never let the other fielder behind you field it if you can make the play and Cabrera made it in plenty of time to get the out. Yeah he took his time but he should , he came to a stop , got a good grip on it and made a good throw, you shouldn’t have to get the guy out by 3 or 4 steps to have the ump call him out, if that was the case 5 guys a game would be safe and fielders would have to rush throws and make more errors.

  5. I was 12 rows back behind the tarp. In real time, he was obviously out — but I often think that and then find out I’m wrong and the ump got it right. In fact, this is the only time I can remember when that wasn’t true. Too bad it had to happen at this game.

  6. I am sick to my stomach. I heard Armando say he will get another chance at a perfect game, and technically he is correct. That’s what makes it so sickening. There are 4860 regular season starts by pitchers a year, meaning there are that many chances to throw perfect games, yet it is still the most rarest of sports accomplishments. Just sick.

  7. It’s inexcusable for a major league ump to miss that call, particularly with what was on the line. It wasn’t a bangbang play. More like bang…..bang.
    Any idea on what he earned for the stellar performance he turned in tonight?

  8. Just another day in Detroit…….a robbery committed……but this time it wae witnessed by tens of thousands. MLB should do the right and honourable thing and return what was stolen, not only from Armando Galarraga, but from all humanity!! Are we not part of a just and fair society?

  9. I just got home from my bar review class and just now heard about tonight’s game. This is awful. I didn’t even see the game and I feel entirely depressed. Poor Armando. Poor Miguel. Poor Alex. Poor fans. Had I watched this thing I would have been absolutely devastated to see the game end like that.

    And maybe I should, but I just can’t bring myself to feel bad for Joyce.

  10. I was six and a Raiders fan when they lost on the Immaculate Reception. Suffered through the Tuck Ruleas an adult. Both were bad calls, but subject to interpetation. This is different.And I know this was just a regular season game, but I have never been this disappointed by an official”s call. Just heartbreaking.

  11. The bad call is a bummer. But, Galarraga knows what he did was special. I feel as sorry for Joyce as anyone. He made an honest mistake and now has to face an irrational mob. bleh.

    I’m against instant replay because it slows down the game and makes it less enjoyable to watch. Mistakes are just part of the game. This is a particularly glaring one, but the fact remains that MLB doesn’t need to do anything to extend the duration of the game. Live and move on.

    So yeah…how about our 3, 4, and 5 starters eh?

  12. Doesn’t the official scorer have the authority to change the scoring on the 27th batter to an error, even after the fact? That would at least preserve an _official_ no-hitter for Armando. I seem to recall Polanco’s 200-games-without-an-error streak benefitting from having a play which had originally been scored an error being changed to a hit the next day. MLB won’t just “award” him a perfect game but a no-hitter should be possible under the normal authority of the scorer, no?

    So who is the scorer for this game?

  13. A guy on the radio out here made a good point. On a play at 1B, the ump is looking at the bag to make sure the foot is on there, and listening for the snap of the ball into the glove. Since Galarraga caught the ball in the webbing of his glove, he didn’t hear that snap.

    Not exactly comforting, but in that light, it’s easier to see how he missed the call.

  14. Jim Joyce is a neighbor of mine (I live in Oregon). He coached my son in youth basketball & his son & mine were teammates in HS sports. He loves the game, loves his job and I gotta say, nobody cares more about that call than him. He’s a great guy and his reputation in the league has always been excellent. As much of a Tiger fan as I am (and I go back to watching the 1968 World Series in my 5th grade classroom), I sure hope this won’t ruin a good man’s name & career.

      1. Okay, okay. It’s 12:13 am. Jim Joyce publicly apologized — I’ve moved through denial to anger, to depression, and now to reconstruction and working through. At this pace, by morning I should be at acceptance and hope.

    1. Inasmuch as Mr. Joyce blew two calls in the same inning, one measurable in inches, the other in feet, please relay to him my appreciation that he decided against a career as an airline pilot or surgeon.
      His name is now synonymous with one of the worst calls in baseball history. In fact, thanks to the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, he has probably become the face of umpiring incompetence, deserved or not.

    2. Tip of the cap to Armando and as mad as I would like to be at Joyce he handled this like a man, most umpires never say a word about a mistake, this guy spoke to the media, Armando and Leyland. He was sincere, listen to the press conference, I can’t be mad at the guy and the fact he has done a good job for such a long time and actually gives a crap should count for something.

      Selig can just reverse the call , like Obermann and Morosi point it, it has happened before with the pine tar thing. He should do it for Joyce as much as Armando, not to mention the Tigers have been playing 130 years and never had a perfect game. The point should be to get it right.

  15. “nobod’ys perfect”. The humility and class with which Armando has handled this just makes me want it even more for him. Heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  16. Good post. Nobody is perfect. Joyce admitted his mistake and that is all that can be asked for. I say no, emphatically and categorically to more instant reply. It was a bad call. Many would like to see the error fixed, but life isn’t that simple. Galaragga will survive, Joyce, hopefully, will survive, and the sun will surely come up tomorrow. god, thank you for baseball.

  17. I was out all night and following via social networking feeds. My first views were highlights and comments on DTW (probably like most of you here who aren’t following live).

    Just pulled up the Indians feed and watched the 9th. Tragic.

    Joyce started with the out call and then went to safe. Agonizing.

    The Indians TV guys seem to be as upset as anyone. Heartbreaking.

    But to echo David N, dear Lord, thank you for baseball.

  18. 50 years from now people will still be talking about this. This could be as famous as George Brett’s pine tar incident or Kirk Gibson’s HR off Eckersly. MLB Network, ESPN,. and the national media was all over this.

  19. You guys see this on Freep?

    “However, another replay appeared to show that Galarraga bobbled Cabrera’s throw. That means the official scorer (longtime scorer and veteran Detroit journalist Chuck Klonke) possibly — possibly — could charge Galarraga with an error, and Galarraga would receive credit for a no-hitter, even though Joyce didn’t mention a bobbled throw as a reason for his “safe” call. The official scorer is allowed to change a call for 24 hours after the game.”

    I certainly didn’t see a bobble, but maybe a little suggestive posturing…?

    1. The official scorer was interviewed live on MLB Network and he said he probably wouldn’t reverse the call because the ump called him safe for a different reason. The ump thought the runner beat the throw.

      1. Official Scorer said he did not see a bobble, even from the centerfield camera angle, so he would not change his ruling.

  20. If the throw beats the runner to the bag, and the fielder bobbled it and the runner is safe, that is an error.

    There was sn outside chance the scorer could have made that ruling, leaving Armondo at least with a no-hitter.

    Ironically, when Joyce aplogized and owned up to his mistake–and said there was no bobble involved in his call–he made a reversal impossible and screwed Armando a 2nd time.

    1. Excellent point.

      In all seriousness, does Joyce need to be disciplined? Perhaps this is carry-over from the awful calls by umps over the past week, but shouldn’t there be repercussions?

      1. The league is committed to human judgment arbitrating the field of play. Humans make mistakes. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of space for the league to find fault with Joyce.

      2. “This play wasn’t even that close. Umpires get that call right 100,000 out of 100,001 times. That play should have been called an out…”

        Tim Kurkjian
        Baseball Historian

        Yes. He should be disciplined. I’m not sure how, or in what way. Likely he will not be disciplined by MLB, but this gaffe will follow him to his grave — which is punishment enough. He has been a good umpire, and a good man (according to first hand testimony on this blog) but I have a hard time swallowing that a call that umpires get right 99.999% of the time Jim Joyce got wrong on the 27th out of a perfect game. It just defies all odds.

        1. roughly 1 in 200,000,000, to be more precise — according to some crude calculations

        2. Joyce considerably improved his odds of getting the call right in the top of the ninth by getting the call wrong in the bottom of the eighth. I wonder if Kurkjian has odds on him blowing two calls within minutes of each other.

      3. This instant replay mess won’t get fixed for the same reason why we are letting the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The decision makers in our country follow their own out of date policies by the book and have no way of dealing with unexpected events. It’s just ridiculous how our society just can’t do the right thing right now. Instead we have to wait for a poor system to fail time and time again before anything is actually done. I’d just like to vomit right now.

  21. Sorry to jim joyce’s neighbor in oregon. He will soley be remembered for this call. As Joyce said himself, biggest call of his career and he blew it. Shaving that ridiculous walrus mustache isn’t going to help either.

  22. He should actually grow it out, dress like Cap’n Crunch, and work suburban birthday parties.

  23. OK, tonight was one of the most egregious injustices in baseball, but still…it’s baseball.

    The Gulf Oil spill? Director James Cameron has been invited to a brainstorming conference for creative input. We are truly screwed, for a long time…

    1. That is precisely why we need express our outrage and disheartenment by this petty injustice — if we must get philosophical about it.

  24. The most shocking thing is that my fellow Tiger fans didn’t give Brandon Inge Player of the Game on FSN Detroit (heavy sarcasm invoked here). Seriously though, my fellow Tiger fans have a curious love affair with Mr. Inge. The guy is a wizard defensively, but is so putrid with the bat in his hands, yet just about every game he is in the Top 3 for Player of the Game as voted on by the fans. Can anyone explain the love for a career .237 hitter in this supposedly baseball-savvy town?

  25. they should fire the ump or better yet, make him follow michelle obama around for the rest of obama’s one term. that would be hell, to watch that women glower around the green earth.

    why wouldnt the head ump reverse the call based on everyone’s clear view of it.

  26. I am not a baseball fan. I love sports and hockey is my favorite. I was there for Johan Franen’s natural four and that got changed to a hat trick during the playoffs. I know how I felt when he did that. I thought it was the MOST amazing thing ever. I was on cloud NINE and I didn’t even score any of the goals.

    That being said… I can feel my heart break for Galarraga. He did something amazing and it was proven by photos AND replay. He deserved this moment but was denied. It is great the UMPIRE apologized but he knew what was on the line and didn’t give the person the benefit of the doubt even though he did what was needed and he proved that he deserved the perfect game.

    I don’t get the LOVE affair of the human element in MLB. I just don’t get it because they have a lot of controversy and this is one thing they should be for due to the amount of money invested in the sport.

    1. //I don’t get the LOVE affair of the human element in MLB. I just don’t get it because they have a lot of controversy and this is one thing they should be for due to the amount of money invested in the sport.//

      I don’t really get it either. They have the technology to make these kinds of calls right, and they won’t do it because they like the “human element”. What’s more important, preserving tradition – that goes against rapidly evolving technology – or getting bad calls like this right?

  27. Looking at the replay in real time, it wasn’t that egregious a call. It was the kind of wrong call you see once every couple of days. And yes, the timing was horrible, but forgive me, are umps supposed to take some calls more seriously than others? Joyce apologized, the Battlestar’s a pro who knows the difference between a 3-hitter and a perfect game is usually luck, and nobody died. It’s just one more good story for baseball lore.

    1. Agreed!

      And as I said in an earlier post, you want a perfect game – get it with a strike out, less chance of a “blown” call there.

  28. Ironically, this game, to be forever known as “Galarraga’s ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ Game” (or some such; somebody will come up with a nifty nickname) will go down in history as the best known one. We’ve already had one perfect game pitched this year, and perfect games will be oitched again, but this feat will likely never be repeated. Joyce will likely be forgotten over time, but Galarraga will probably live forever in baseball lore along with a handful of other pedestrian ballplayers like Johnny VanderMeer, Mickey Owens, Don Larsen, etc.

    I don’t want to pass premature judgement on AG, but it is one of the wonderful things about baseball that an average player can rise to the ocassion and end up being better remembered than many who end up having superior careers or seasons.

    On a more practical note, I hope he can keep up the quality work, pitch like he did in ’08 and solve our No. 5 starter issues.

  29. if the indians don’t object, I think they could overturn it without setting some horrible (in mlb’s mind) precedent.

  30. “Replay will make the game longer”. Really? What takes longer, the player in the field arguing the call with the ump for a minute or two, and then the manager saunters out of the dugout to backup his player or protect him from getting tossed, or throwing it up to the booth, and replay official calls down with the correct call? I’m a baseball “purist” too, and this “human element” argument is BS. Get the friggin’ call right.

  31. I don’t really want to see replay in baseball. I was fired up about it in football when they first instituted it (the 2nd current version), but I can’t stand it now. It does make the game longer and it breaks the flow of the action. It ruins my real time, emotional involvement with the game on the field. I suppose you could mitigate that by having a rule that doesn’t allow such liberal use, but baseball is still a 3 hour game and if you give each team a replay that the manage can elect to use (as Jason Stark suggests) I can guarantee you those replays are used and that each use will result in a 5-15 minute delays. Another thing about replay is that the subjective element is still there–only at a micro level. The tuck rule game is a great example. Was Brady actually throwing the ball? I don’t think so, but the ref thought so…or at least was trying to cover his butt by finding a visible benchmark that allowed him to make the call. The tuck rule itself is open to subjective interpretation–was his arm moving forward in that split millisecond of time when the ball popped lose? Imagine replays of trapped balls where the glove hides the ball. We would have to sit there watching the replay OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN as the TV announcer’s tell you the freaking rule 10,0000 times. I know some people think getting it right is the most important thing. And although I agree that’s important, I think enjoying the sporting event is the most important thing, and replay takes away some of that enjoyment for. Nobody is getting sent to prison here if these calls aren’t right.

    What I think will happen in this instance is the league will probably make a reactive decision to re-address the replay issue, fully intending to add more replay. I will then give Gallaraga his perfect game. But I can’t see how they can give Gallaraga his perfect game without creating some sort of mechanism to deal with this the next time it happens.

  32. With so much on the line, its time for baseball to join all other sports and allow the ability to overturn obviously incorrect calls such as this. There’s no need to delay the game more than a few seconds with a replay official upstairs to review and confirm the call within moments, when all of us at home saw the call was wrong.

    Joyce blew TWO calls within an inning, as Damon was out in the bottom of the 8th, which led directly to two insurance runs…had that been the difference in the game, the Tribe fans would be crying about that now. To have games – and therefore, careers & salaries, subject to random incorrect calls is tragic.

    To that end, in modern sports, this blown call costs MONEY. AG would’ve joined history with a perfect game – signing autographs for the rest of his life – and this probably costs the Tigers about $1m in gate & lost trinket sales over the rest of the season in celebration.

    If this had been NYY-BOS, you can bet there would be a frenzy over this until the rules were changed, but because it was DET-CLE, and a nobody named Galarraga, it will be a fuss for a couple days, then forgotten as “part of the game.”

  33. Talk about a sublime reaction, Bill, I expected you to be way more upset, and I admire your thoughtful post. My house rocked with anger, frustration and disappointment last night (remember, I live with a lifelong, loyal fan). I truly think it warrants Selig overturning the call and awarding the perfect game. Yes, he’ll take heat for opening up a can of worms, but that’s what he gets paid the big bucks for!

  34. I would like to state how much of class act you have in the Tigers. There could have been a lot of bashing the ump, whining, etc. I know you see that in basketball and in football during the post game interviews, but these guys all stepped up and talked about the great game. It was a great game and my team lost, however I do agree that Donald was out. I hope they can place a perfect game in the record books with a notation that the single was disputed and overturned. Good luck to Galarraga and I know he will get a perfect game eventually the way pitched last night.

  35. I still have 4 Den tickets unsold on eBay. I listed it for like 160 then dropped to 140 after a couple hours then 120 now its 100 and nobody wants to buy them. I was going to go down there and sell them but it’s not worth making the trip if anybody wants them, or I would do 75 for somebody here. These are 55 dollar face value tickets with a 20 dollar free parking, if somebody even wants to get them just to try and make more at the park feel free. I’m extremely busy and need an excuse to not go down there lol.

    1. I can’t speak for Bill and he’s much too nice to take you to school, but I think it’s highly inappropriate to use his site to sell your tickets. There are many places on line that charge you a fee to sell your tickets and you’re taking advantage of his generosity pretending you’re doing someone a favor by selling your tickets to them.

      And while I’m at it, this is no place to trash the Obamas either. Take your political trash talk to AM talk radio.

      You should both click on the advertisement links on this page as penance. For shame!!

    1. Yeah I still can’t get past the issue of them not having a way to even call balls and strikes correctly more consistently. Without using equipment or an adjudicator to keep the game fair and balanced it’s just silly and an unprofessional way to orchestrate a sports competition.

    1. I’m still mad, mad, mad. This has got to be overturned or baseball will lose all credibility. More and more fans will drift away.

      1. Can the Commish also overturn his decision to end a game in a tie? He’s the same walk of life as that dufus Jim Joyce. It’s the blind leading the blind. We’re screwed.

  36. sports officiating is the only job on earth where you are supposed to be PERFECT when you take the job and get better at it from there……..

  37. Honestly after all that has happened it should be overturned. Even the guys on MLB Network agree it should happen otherwise the MLB comes off looking like idiots.

    You have the video evidence from multiple angles, you have virtually every person involved in baseball agreeing it was the wrong call and you have the Ump who made the call admitting it and then APOLOGIZING for the call.

    Yet they will sit back and say “well….uhhhh…we already wrote it down…there is no changing it now”. At this point it hurts baseball’s image to not do something about it.

    Considering the historical nature of the game (first PG in Tigers history, and a continuation of what is likely the greatest single pitching year in baseball history with 3 PG’s in the span of a few weeks). Also considering that a change of the ruling doesn’t effect the outcome of the game in anyway except to give someone what they earned.

    I’m wondering how this would actually “hurt” the game……

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