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.”
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.