In this blog’s first non-Jazz-related post, I am going to discuss the botched call by umpire Jim Joyce that cost Armando Gallaraga a perfect game earlier this evening.
First of all, I would like to say that everybody is entitled to make mistakes in life. In fact, mistakes are one of the greatest things that we, as people, can learn from. However, in this particular situation, Jim Joyce did more than make a mistake: He had a lapse in judgment.
If you want to understand how off Jim Joyce’s call was, you need to understand this: If Joyce makes this same call in the bottom of the 4th inning of a 3-2 game, people still would have complained about it. It would have been slowed down and shown on SportsCenter at least a couple of times just as a part of the game’s highlight package. That’s how obvious the call was. But that’s besides the biggest issue that bothered me.
The reason that I and many other sports fans were outraged by this call was because it was potentially the final out of a perfect game. Now, I am not saying that the umpire should cheat to give a call that is blatantly against the pitcher’s team. That, too, would have been argued, albeit by the opposing team and its fans. Rather, when a play of that magnitude is being debated by the umpire in his head, he should make absolutely certain that the runner is safe. In other words, he should have inconclusive evidence in his mind that he saw that the runner was safe. Anything else needs to be called out. If you’re not sure, you call him out. End of story. If the play was that close, people would have understood if the umpire called the runner out. After all, history is on the line! So for Jim Joyce to call the runner safe, even more so on a play that wasn’t even close, makes no sense.
The way I see it, if I am an umpire in that position, and I am forced to make a close call to determine the fate of a perfect game, I am going to need to be 200% sure that I saw that the runner was safe. To get the call wrong in the favor of the pitcher is not nearly as bad as getting the call wrong against the pitcher.
It’s just too bad that Jim Joyce didn’t think about it like that.