Umpire Jim Joyce Orchestrates Perfect Failure
It has been a strange month of baseball. Two perfect games in a season for the first time in 130 years, umpire Joe West catching flak for...well, for being an obnoxious tool, and now this.
In tonight's Tigers-Indians game, Detroit starter Armando Galarraga was absolutely cruising and headed into the ninth inning with a perfect game on the line.
Center fielder Austin Jackson ran down what I was dead certain was a double into the left-centerfield gap on the very first pitch of the inning to leave Armando two outs away. A groundout from Russell Branyan and suddenly the moment was upon us.
The Indians' number nine hitter, Jason Donald, smacked a ground ball in between first and second base, forcing Miguel Cabrera to pursue and Galarraga to cover first base. Cabrera fielded cleanly and tossed the ball to Galarraga, who caught it, and both yelled for joy.
Except first base umpire Jim Joyce called Donald safe. There is little room for debate. In ESPN's bonus coverage of the event through FSN Detroit, several angles showed that Galarraga clearly established control of the ball with his foot on the base at least a half-step before Donald got there, making Joyce's call clearly wrong.
To add insult to injury, as Galarraga worked to retire the next batter to end the game, Joyce actually spent the at-bat arguing with Cabrera as though he had a leg to stand on.
This only serves to gloss over what Galarraga did. A second perfect game in a week, third in a month, and fourth in the last calendar year. This feat is made even more impressive by the fact that every single pitch he threw in the last two innings was in the 85-88 mph range. We can only hope that Bud Selig will see it in his heart to overturn what is very clearly a mistake, and while it didn't cost Detroit a win, it did cost Galarraga a rare spot in the record books.
UPDATE: Joyce immediately apologized for his error, and met Galarraga at home plate to exchange lineups and a handshake today. I myself should apologize for jumping down the mans throat for doing a difficult job as best he could. Selig will not change anything about the event, while Pat at WHYGAVS provides a very enlightened insight into it all.