The Year in Sanity: Jim Joyce

His blown call cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game. But from the moment he realized his mistake, he was golden

Topics: The Year in Sanity,

The Year in Sanity: Jim Joyce** CORRECTS PERFECT GAME TO WEDNESDAY, NOT TUESDAY ** Home plate umpire Jim Joyce calls a strike during the first inning of a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians in Detroit Thursday, June 3, 2010. Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga lost his bid for a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning on a disputed call at first base by Joyce on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)(Credit: Paul Sancya)

Armando Galarraga was a journeyman Detroit Tigers right-hander who shocked the baseball world on June 2 by throwing a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. Except, of course, the game wasn’t perfect, because with two outs in the ninth inning umpire Jim Joyce called Jason Donald of the Indians safe at first base when Donald clearly should have been called out to end the game.

Galarraga responded with a you’ve got to be kidding me smile for the ages, then retired one more batter for a one-hit shutout. He later said he hadn’t argued because he was in shock.

But it was Joyce’s response that turned this terrible tale into one that’s almost heart-warming. Not as heart-warming as a journeyman pitcher tossing a perfect game, mind you, but pretty toasty.

Having asked to see the video replay after the game, an emotional Joyce spoke to reporters: “It was the biggest call of my career and I kicked it. I just cost that kid a perfect game,” he said. “I missed it from here to that wall. I had a great angle, and I missed the call.” He also asked to speak to Galarraga, apologized to him and hugged him. Offered the next day off by his superiors, Joyce declined, saying he was ready to face what he assumed would be a hostile reaction from the Detroit crowd.

This eminently reasonable, grown-up reaction stood out because baseball umpires are ordinarily cloistered. They have what amounts to lifetime tenure. They don’t face reporters, rarely admit mistakes publicly and are not held accountable for their actions in any way that’s visible to the players or public. Don’t like that call? Replays showed the ump got it wrong? Tough.

You Might Also Like

Galarraga said he’d forgiven the umpire, and Joyce’s response to his error has been widely praised beyond baseball. He’s become a go-to example of how to handle mistakes in politics, religion and — especially because his straight-forward behavior came in the midst of BP’s oil-spill debaclebusiness.

Less than two weeks after the blown call, ESPN surveyed major league players for their opinions about umpires. Their overwhelming choice as the best in the business: Jim Joyce.

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>