Umpire Stole Perfect Game from Everybody

My children sometimes ask me why I don’t cheer or scream while watching games.
I always give them the same response that I am a journalist. I am here to record history not cheer for it.
That was not the case Wednesday night after Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed by umpire Jim Joyce from recording the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history. I jumped up and down screaming: “I can’t believe he made that call. I can’t believe he called him safe.”
I have never been this angry following a Tigers victory.
Now in my mind Galarraga became the first player to pitch a perfect game by recording 28 outs.
Of course you know what play I am talking about. The entire state is talking about it. There were two outs in the ninth of the Tigers 3-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians when Jason Donald slapped a ball between first and second.
First baseman grabbed the ball and fired the ball to Galarraga for the final out. Galarraga raised his hand in celebration because he knew he beat Donald by a half step to the bag. However, Joyce blew the call and signaled that Donald was safe.
I learned something new about baseball. In a perfect game the pitcher and defense not only must be perfect but the umpires must be perfect also.
Joyce blew it and many of us who hung on every pitch blew up. Folks were angry. Some fans I’ve spoken to believe Joyce not only took the perfect game away from Galarraga but also stole it from the city of Detroit.
We are a town that shares in every feat and believes that at least a small part of it belongs to us. It was the same way when Barry Sanders rushed for 2,000 yards and it was the same when the Red Wings won their four championships under Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom and the rest of the gang.
This feat belonged to the Tigers. It belonged to Galarraga and it belonged to the state of Michigan.
Now it is gone because of a blown call.
I was angry and my only release was watching the Tigers give it to Joyce before he retreated to the umpire’s room, saw the replay and then admitted his mistake.
I am glad he confessed that he blew the call and apologized to Galarraga. I only wish baseball could overturn the decision and give Galarraga his perfect game.
I know that is not possible but this is a call that could have far reaching ramifications.
It will spark the debate for replay in baseball and do not be surprised if replay is introduced in the game under special circumstances.
The blown call might help baseball get the next perfect game right. It’s too bad nothing can be done about Galarraga’s perfect gem that will go into the record books as the most disappointing one hitter in baseball history.

  • Nolan

    This is about as gut wrenching as it gets, this just isn’t fair and there is nothing that can be done about it, a feeling nobody should ever have

  • George Papalexis

    Your statement that all aspects of a game need to be perfect for the game to be perfect says it all. That one sentence I will use to calm myself every time of think of this game. George Papalexis

  • aaron hughlett

    Unless I am wrong, the official scorer can reverse a hit/error call within 24 hours. I know it won’t give Galarraga his perfect game back, but if the scorer makes a “judgement” call and rules an E1 on that play, Galarraga will at least get his no hitter. Nobody will complain.

  • Corey

    The thing that gets me about Joyce’s call is WHY make a close call in favor of the player/team that stands in no way to benefit from it. What? Was Cleveland gonna make a 3-run, 2-out in the 9th … especially the way AG was pitching? What benefit whatsoever did Cleveland get by making a bang-bang call in their favor. The Tigers/AG had EVERYTHING to benefit from the call in their favor– HISTORY! If you’re going to err… at least err in favor of benefit/history. Let’s say the opposite happened… that he was actually safe and Joyce called him out. Whose gonna gripe? Yeah.. there might be one or 2 geeks who would have screamed about a “sympathy” call to get the perfect game… but really, would not the public have felt that AG deserved a favorable call… for the way he pitched that game… didn’t he deserve some deference (at home, no less) on a on a bang-bang play? This happens in every sport and the public, generally, is OK with it. The ump nearly wouldn’t have gotten the grief for THAT wrong call (had it actually happened that way) than this sort of mistake. This is the innocent man going to prison vs. letting the crooked man go. We accept the second as happening sometimes, but we never want to see the first! Sometimes “what’s right” outweighs “what’s accurate” or “truth.” Joyce was too concerned about trying to make a call on “truth” (at least in his mind) than making the call on “what is right here?” He’ll pay a deep price for it.

  • Richard

    I blame Leyland and the Home-Plate Ump. under MLB rules Section 9.04 paragraph C ( the umps could have discussed the play/call and changed the call on the field. Leyland should have known this and so should have the Home-Plate Ump. Leyland sucks

    • George

      Richard; Leyland, Joyce, the home plate umpire, and the crew chief were all familiar with this rule. Unfortunately your understanding of the rule is not complete. For this rule to take affect, there would have had to have been 2 different umpires make a call on the same play. 1.) this was Joyce’s call. 2.) No other umpire made a conflicting call. 3.) No conference was called because Joyce did not ask for an appeal, he believed the on field call was correct (at that time), and 4.) The umpire in chief did not ask for a consultation with the other umpires.

      It’s a bad situation, but that rule would have made no difference in the game. I just wish would have given the benefit of the doubt to the defense in that situation, but he called it as he saw it.

  • PhilWood

    It sucked the Ump made that poor decision, but it is a sport and not all calls are the right ones…If they had instant replay this call would have been reversed..If the MLB would have given the ok for Gala to get the perfect game, then i think they would have to go back and review every baseball game and reverse the poor calls made….Geezzz, he still got a $70,000 Vette from GM!

  • Charlie monroe


    How long are you going to put up with that idiot they have you working with?

  • Asie Morris

    I bet if this was a pitcher from the Yanks or the Sox Selig would overturn the call. But since this is lowly Detroit…NO LOVE!!!

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