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.



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 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • 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>