Thursday, June 3, 2010

My thoughts on an umpire's missed call

As most anyone who knows me for very long, I am a huge baseball fan. I love the game.

So imagine my glee when I noticed while online that Detroit Tiger pitcher 
Armando Galarraga had a perfect game going through the seventh inning. Immediately, I turned on the online webcast of the game to listen to the Tiger broadcasts call a potentially historic finish.

As the game moved to the ninth, I flipped my television on ESPN to view the action while calling Jayson, my 9-year-son, so he could watch it with me because he too is a baseball nut.

What unfolded from that point on was nothing like anything I ever expected to see.

When Austin Jackson made that amazing catch for the first out in the top of the ninth, I was certain we were going to see history. Little did I know what kind of history it would be.

Galarraga had gotten the first 26 batters he faced and needed just one more out to become the 21st pitcher in MLB history to toss a perfect game.

Jason Donald then grounded a 1-1 pitch to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who fielded and threw to Galarraga who ran over to cover first. What resulted was a bang-bang play. In case you haven't seen the play, go here.

First-base umpire
Jim Joyce immediately called Donald safe, ending the potential for a perfect game.

While many claim Donald was out when viewing the game live, replays seem to only confirm this.

In all honesty, I thought Donald was out from the outset, and my anger and outrage over Joyce's call only grew with each and every replay of the 'base hit.' Go back and look at my
Twitter feed. I was ticked off. I wanted to witness history.

But having slept on it and having some time to think about the events, I have a new perspective and my anger and outrage has morphed into empathy, understanding and respect.

Now, this blog is about sports information, and there is a sports information lesson here. So, please be patient with me.

First, I give high praise to all the participants in the game for their sportsmanship, especially Galarraga and Joyce. If you notice, right after the safe call was made, a smile crossed the pitcher's face. He was irate and didn't get in Joyce's face to argue the call.

Galarraga accepted the umpire's call as it was, even though it cost him a place in history.

Joyce is also to be praised and respected for his actions following the game. After viewing replays following the game, Joyce tearfully admitted he blew the call and apologized for costing Galarraga the perfect game.

(Full disclosure: having seen the play several times from a couple different angles including one similar to Joyce's point of view, I can see how in the heat of the moment he called Donald safe.)

It takes a lot to admit when you are wrong, especially so openly and publicly like Joyce did.

I know and feel Joyce's pain as should all who work in sports information.

No one ever knows are remembers who the umpires are until they mess up. Likewise, no on ever knows who the sports information directors are until there's a snafu.

We are the offensive linemen of the world.

By all accounts, Joyce has pieced together a stellar career and is very well respected around the game. It would be a shame for him to be remembered for his blown call.

Rather, let's remember Joyce for the integrity he displayed in taking ownership for his actions.

Mistakes happen. They are a part of life.

But how you handle and deal with your miscues speaks volumes about your character.

As the legendary
John Wooden once said, "Sports do not build character. They reveal it."

Yes, Galarraga came up short in his bid for a perfect game, but he and Joyce showed the world they are men of good, strong character.

To me, that makes them winners in my book.


  1. I couldn't agree more! The way both Joyce and Galarraga responded was the total opposite of what I ever imagined would happen. Props to both of them. Their reactions to me, show the honor and class of the game and prove the call shouldn't be reversed.


  2. I agree - class was shown in the aftermath, and that is something that is lacking in our world today.