First base umpire Jim Joyce absolutely hoses Armando Galarraga in perfect game attempt

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a bigger hosing in sports than the one first base umpire Jim Joyce pulled on Tigers’ starter Armando Galarraga on Wednesday night.

Galarraga took a perfect game into the top of the ninth inning against the Indians at Comercia Park and quickly retired the first two batters he faced. Cleveland’s Jason Donald then hit a ball to the right side of the infield as Miguel Cabrera fielded it cleanly and threw a strike to Galarraga, who raced off the mound to cover first base.

As Donald ran hard through the base, Joyce started to cock his fist to signal the final out but then abruptly called Donald safe, killing Galarraga’s perfect game. The play was close live, but replays showed that Donald was out by almost two full steps, meaning Joyce blew the call.

Umpires have it tough – especially on bang-bang calls like that one. It was a judgment call and umpires don’t have the luxury of instant replay, so they have to make a quick decision in the heat of the moment.

That said, Donald was out by nearly two feet. More importantly, Galarraga had a perfect game and it was the last freaking out of the game. If the call could go either way (which it could have), call the runner out and let Galarraga have his moment. There was simply no excuse for Joyce to call Donald safe in that situation and what made it worse was the fact that he started to call him out before throwing up the safe sign. (Not to mention that two plays before that, Austin Jackson made the play of the year in centerfield, taking away a sure-fire base hit with a Willie Mays-like catch at the warning track.)

The only positive thing I’ll say about Joyce is that he stood there like a man at the end of the game and took a vicious verbal beating from Tiger players and manager Jim Leyland. He didn’t run into the umpire’s room and hide – he faced the music. He also manned-up after the game and admitted his mistake.


“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.”

“I don’t blame them a bit or anything that was said,” Joyce said. “I would’ve said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would’ve been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me.”

Galarraga deserves a lot of credit for keeping his composure. He didn’t hop up and down after the call or scream at Joyce. He just gave the umpire a, “Are you sh*tting me?” grin and went on to record the final out. If Galarraga does eventually rip into Joyce, nobody will blame him. Joyce blew it and he knows it, but the call can’t be reversed and therefore there’s nothing Galarraga or the Tigers can do. Joyce will forever be remembered for this play.

Maybe it’s time for baseball to institute instant replay for more than just home run calls.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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