"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Perfecto! (Or: Bless His Heart, Jim Joyce Must Be the Sickest Man in America)

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, after seeing a replay of the call Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, said of about Joyce, “It happened to the best umpire we have in our game. The best. And a perfect gentleman. Obviously, it was a mistake. It was a perfect game. It’s a shame for both of them, for the pitcher and for the umpire. But I’m telling you he is the best baseball has, and a great guy. It’s just a shame.”
(Verducci, SI.com)

Armando Galarraga made history tonight, tossing the first 28-0ut perfect game. The Tigers beat the Indians, 3-0 and this game will be remembered for a long time for all the wrong reasons.

In the top of the ninth, Mark Grudzielanek hit a deep drive to left center field. The perfect game looked lost. Then Austin Jackson caught up to it and made a terrific catch. Fate was on Galarraga’s side. With two out, Jason McDonald hit a ground ball to the right side. First baseman, Miguel Cabrera, moved to his right, fielded the ball, then waited a fraction of a second before throwing to Galarraga, who was covering first.

Cabrera raised his arms as soon as he threw the ball and the runner was out. But Jim Joyce called him safe. He blew the call. Right in front of him. Blew it. Trevor Crowe grounded out for the 28th and final out.

I felt sick to my stomach watching it on TV. It was like getting kicked in the gut or lower. The fans in Detroit booed. It seemed like half of the Tigers team had to be restrained from jumping Joyce whose professional life may never be the same after one blown call. From what little I know about umpires, they take their mistakes to heart, so I can only assume this is the worst night of Jim Joyce’s life (and I feel for him as I imagine nobody feels worse about this than he does).

After the game, Joyce told reporters, “I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

Joyce’s mistake surely spoiled the best night of Galarraga’s life, but instead of letting this sickening feeling overshadow Galarraga’s brilliance, let’s just flip it—this was a wonderful feat. Joyce’s mistake only allowed Galarraga to accomplish something even more unique than a perfect game. A 28-out perfecto.

No matter what the record books say, this was perfection by Galarraga, plus one. An untimely mistake by Jim Joyce can’t spoil what we all saw and know to be true.

[Photo Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sancya]

Here is Joe Posnanski’s take; and here is audio from Joyce. Listening to Joyce, I got choked-up. You can hear how badly he felt, that he knew it wasn’t just a call, it was a “historic” call. Man, oh, man.


1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:02 pm

Look for Gallarage and Joyce to be doing trade shows in 20 years..ya never know, stranger people have come together..


2 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:04 pm

In some small way, Galarraga achieved greater immortality with the blown call than he probably would have if he'd gotten the perfect game.

From now on out, he'll be remembered as the guy who lost the perfect game on the 27th batter, on a terribly blown call ...

3 Mattpat11   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:09 pm

I was calling my father with two hits in the ninth, and as soon as he answered the phone, Joyce blew the call, the conversation went like this

Dad: Hello?


Dad: WHAT?

4 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:09 pm

Meanwhile, poor Ken Griffey jr ... he retires and nobody's paying any attention

5 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:13 pm

[4] We'll remember Junior. Give it a day and he will get his due. He coulda and shoulda been the All Time HR leader, but injuries...

6 randym77   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:25 pm

[4] He's getting plenty of attention from ESPN.

7 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:26 pm

[5] Maybe. Or maybe he ends up being the Farrah Fawcett of today ... this blown call story is going to create its own weather for a while ...

8 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:32 pm

[7] Yeah Ed McMahon's demise really did overshadow poor Farah.

9 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:38 pm

[8] That's a bummer, I didn't even know Ed McMahon had died ...

10 JeremyM   ~  Jun 2, 2010 11:06 pm

Didn't some other guy die around the same time? Used to be in some little boy group, the Jackson 5 or Tito Jackson and the Jacksons or something....?

11 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 2, 2010 11:11 pm

Why can't MLB call an inquiry, reverse the call and scratch the last out from the record books? There's no reason that call has to stand. It's too important. And it's ridiculous to have this thing out there waving in the wind that is obviously incorrect. And there's not even room for debate, as with other obvious public mistakes like the London Olympics logo or the Gaza Flotilla raid.

Wrong is wrong, but there is a way to fix it. Time for Selig to step up to the plate.

12 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 2, 2010 11:17 pm

[1] Good one. There's also a photo somewhere of Michael J with Nancy Reagan. He's got the glove on, a matador jacket and everything.

13 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 2, 2010 11:28 pm

Meanwhile, let me just say that everything I've heard and heard about Galarraga's reaction has been pure class.

I was just in the car and a local talk radio station (not a sports station) led off their newsbreak with the story about the blown call. They had a clip of Galarraga talking about it and he was very sanguine, "it was a close play, these things happen". He mentioned that he had talked to Joyce afterwards and Joyce had been very sorry; overall he took the high road about the whole thing.

It was nice to hear ...

14 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 2, 2010 11:39 pm

Joyce was stad up after the game too. Apologized to the kid and leyland...says a lot about a guy...

15 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 2, 2010 11:39 pm

[13] Yeah, he had this bemused smile on his face right after the call. No outward display of anger, frustration or even shock.

16 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 3, 2010 12:00 am

[10]yeah, him too.

17 Yankster   ~  Jun 3, 2010 12:04 am

This has got to happen to every American every day and in a major degree every year: someone in authority blows a call. And Americans deal with it. But this ump blows a call and suddenly hundreds of thousands of posts of a very ugly nature appear everywhere - some even wondering if the ump should kill himself - and it makes me realize what a haven the baseball field is for us collectively. It's a nice lawn and has rules and there's some old dudes in charge. And when the injustice is gross and mimics something we might have experienced in our own lives, that early clint eastwood anger is just collectively unleashed. I've read people saying the call is "unfair" and "wrong" and that the grand patriarch should fix the injustice, and it's just so refreshing that people are getting upset about that. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

It's also a relief that both Galarraga and Joyce are such good characters about it - it's really admirable in both cases, and I hope it will endure a lot longer than all the rage especially if Selig just absorbs the punishment and doesn't touch the game. Now that would be perfect.

18 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 3, 2010 12:14 am

I'm not in favor of changing the outcome of the game. What's done is done and there isn't any established history of a commissioner acting to re-write history in such a way.

I would like it however, if it leads to some sort of limited instant replay that could be used to overturn bad calls, especially when they have direct impact (or potentially direct impact) on a game's outcome.

Jayson Stark has a proposal up at ESPN that I think wouldn't be overly intrusive, but at the same time could have easily prevented this debacle.

For the record though, this wasn't even the worst blown call I've seen in the last 72 hours, just the most costly on an individual and historical level. The horrible, horrible call that C.B. Bucknor made at 2nd two days ago was worse than this ...

19 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 3, 2010 12:16 am

[14] No doubt that Joyce has been a respected ump with 20+ years and WS experience. He had to apologize as there was no doubt that his call was wrong. I still think his decision to call that safe smacks of self importance or Napoleon complex, as no umpire should in that situation make that call on a close play for the final out of a perfect game. Galarraga deserves the benefit of the doubt after that performance.

I do have sympathy for Joyce, as this will haunt him for the rest of his life. He'll always wince when he thinks about it long after fans let it go.

20 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 3, 2010 12:30 am

[18] Well, the call did not affect the outcome of the game as far as the standings or who won or lost. But it did affect the personal record of a player, and the record books in general. So that's why it is a perfect candidate for a reversal. Dude gets the credit he deserves, maybe he gets some award or bonus or dinner in the off season, but everything else remains the same. What's more, Joyce can sleep a little easier.

21 thelarmis   ~  Jun 3, 2010 12:53 am

oh man. poor kid. he was wonderful, i heard him on the radio. i do wish Bud would intervene here and turn it around. it's truly historical.

i love griffey.

i love farah, too. but for different reasons... ; )

22 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 3, 2010 6:55 am


So very well said, man. Actually, that's what this got me thinking about more than anything else--the nature of imperfection, of mistakes, of screwing up. I do it all the time. We all do. Though not nearly in such a public arena. Life isn't just. But the kid and the ump both displayed some real character in how they handled it--as opposed to Dallas Braden, whose moment in the sun reinforced his character as a braggart and a blowhard.

That said, dudes, there wasn't a perfect game thrown in the Seventies. That's three this season alone. What gives?

23 seamus   ~  Jun 3, 2010 7:42 am

[22] yeah, i was kind of thinking about that last night. 3 in a season should never happen. It seems so logically impossible. Is there some reason this is happening now? It's pretty wild.

24 Dimelo   ~  Jun 3, 2010 7:58 am

The catch by A-Jax was freaggin awesome.

25 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 3, 2010 8:18 am

Part of me wishes that MLB overturns the game and gives the kid an official perfecto, but I know that won't happen and perhaps it would set a bad prescedent. Man, if I was a parent, there would be some lesson about fairness in all of this, how life isn't fair sometimes, and nobody screwed up on purpose. Still, I think the pitcher and the ump come away looking very good here. Both were extremely stand-up after the game.

26 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 3, 2010 8:48 am

Not to pile on here ... but Joyce missed the call on Damon's at-bat in the top of the 9th also ... it was much closer play at 1st, but replay showed his call to be wrong.

Sucks to be an ump most days.

27 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 3, 2010 8:49 am

One more thing .... why oh why couldn't this have happened to Joe West instead?

28 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 3, 2010 9:08 am

I understand why you wouldn't want MLB to over-rule the call, but at the same time I wouldn't complain if Galarraga was given back what he earned, and had taken from him.

The kid built a perfect house of cards, and just as he placed the last card, a split-second after it was in place, the ump sneezed and blew the house down. That doesn't mean the house wasn't built. Doesn't mean Galarraga didn't accomplish the rare feat.

Galarraga played the game perfectly, a performance that should be noted, and honored by anyone who cares about baseball. The ump made a mistake that could be forgiven and forgotten.

But again, I can also see why MLB shouldn't, and won't reverse the call. Mistakes, and bad calls are part of the game, always have been.. I get that... but when an ump ruins perfection, a split-second AFTER the game SHOULD have ended, I dunno, man, baseball's gotta do something to make that right, no? Yeah, maybe not. Your call, Bud. This is why you get the big bucks.

29 rbj   ~  Jun 3, 2010 9:10 am

My intertubes went out fairly early last night, so I wasn't able to comment at the time, but. . . .

how in hell do you not give the kid that call?!!? Even if it's a tie, you give the call to the pitcher in that situation. It's not like Moose, where there's a clean single, it's basically the runner & ball arriving at the same time, give the call to the pitcher there.

I haven't been a fan of instant replay, but this changes things. Maybe each manager gets one challenge a game.

And Bud has to use "best interests of the game" and over turn the call. Normally I don't want a game's ending changed (didn't like the reversal of the pine tar game) but, come on, last play of a perfect game and a blown call?

30 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 3, 2010 9:17 am

[25] yup.

31 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 3, 2010 9:35 am

If MLB had to rely on tradtional Network TV, game admissions and sales of goods, they would make a fraction of what they make now. But thanks to technology.... cable TV, extended stations and the internet, MLB makes a fortune. Like many people and companies, technology allows MLB to rake in the money.

So if MLB is HAPPY to use technology to make a fortune, what is the problem with using technology to make the game fairer??

One problem is that when they FINALLY decided to use Instant Replay (IR) on HR calls, they did it in the worst possible way. By the time the umps walk off the field to 'review' the play, the entire country has already seen the play 10 times, in slow mo, and from multiple angles. We, the viewing public already know what the play was, long before the umps make the final call.

All sports embody the fundamental idea of fairness. Using technology to make the game more Fair, should be a no-brainer. However, they need to encorporate IR in a way that is more transparent and doesn't delay the game. Each manager should have 3 challenges. The HP ump should have an earpiece that's connected to a central 'reviewing booth', where a booth umpire has already seen the play in slow-mo, from many angles (just like the rest of us), and simply tells the HP ump the correct call.

This is NOT really a radical idea. It's not near as big 'a change' as Interleague play, the DH, lowering the mound, or many other aspects of today's game. The Umps would LOVE IR. If we had it, the kid would have his perfect game, and nobody would even know the name of the 1st base ump. I'll bet my life that Joyce wishes his call had been reversed.

Again, sports IS about FAIR competition. It may take a while for some to get used to, but making the game more fair would ultimately be accepted and praised by the vast majority of the baseball world.

32 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 3, 2010 9:43 am

If Bud overturns that play, that means he used Instant Replay to review the play and make a determination. He can NOT overturn that play (because he had Instant Replay) without instituting IR from now on.

Like the Law, it would be a 'Precedent' that would then become the law going forward.

33 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 3, 2010 10:14 am

The more I think about it, the more I read about it, I'm with Girardi: overturn the call.

“I know it would be the first time that it’s ever happened, but you’re talking about a very unusual circumstance here.”

34 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 3, 2010 10:42 am

What if there was a play in last night's game in which the Tigers got a favorable bang-bang call. Would that be grounds for removing the perfect game again? For that matter, should we go back and review every perfect game to make sure the umpires' were perfect too? Maybe David Cone or David Wells got a favorable call. Should those games no longer be deemed perfect?

As for instant replay, it isn't a cut and dry issue. Baseball action does not lend itself well to instant replay. So much action occurrs "away from the ball", that using instant replay in all but the most limited form would lead to unwinding game events. I'd rather live with human error than chaos.

Bud Selig needs to allow the storm of criticism to pass without reacting rashly. What happened last night was unfortunate, but it doesn't mean we need to leap into a fundamental change.

35 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 3, 2010 10:55 am


see (26) ..... Damon's bang-bang play call was blown, which a few batters later led to 2 more runs in the top of the 9th.

36 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jun 3, 2010 12:19 pm

William and Diane are right (again). The Damon call was blown by Joyce as well (closer play but out).

I agree there are likely to have been many, many questionable calls in no-hitters and perfect games over the years. Guy gets punched out on a ball 6 inches outside, etc. In a no-no, a play's ruled an error when ...

For me, once Joyce said he thought the runner beat the ball, all space for Selig to do something disappeared. They would have had room to alter a scoring decision (hit to error) if Joyce's call was a bobbled ball or missed bag. Not as we have it, though.

I agree with others here and elsewhere: there's a measure of class being shown by pitcher and umpire (and even Leyland, actually). It helps that, as Mo noted, Joyce is a really well-respected ump.

I think he choked, actually. Happens.

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