We Banned the Wrong James Joyce
The piece of shit who ruined Armando Galarraga's perfecto in last night's game against the Cleveland Indians, and not the James Joyce of Ulysses fame, ought to be banned. He ought to be banned from umpiring Major League, all four levels of Minor League, college, high school, Little League, Babe Ruth League and T-ball games. For good measure, he also ought to be barred from attending any games at any level and from working the concessions.
It was inevitable, I guess, when ESPN, completely oblivious of baseball protocol and superstition, invited disaster by running their banner that continuously announced, "YOU ARE WATCHING TIGERS P ARMANDO GALARRAGA ATTEMPT A PERFECT GAME..."
With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, with nonentity shortstop Jason Donald standing at the plate, Galarraga was poised to become not just the 21st man to pitch a perfect game, but the third to do it in three weeks. Earlier this month, the Oakland A's Dallas Braden shut down the Tampa Bay Rays and just last week the Phillies' Roy Halladay did the same to Florida's other franchise, the Marlins. For good measure, late last April, the Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez tossed a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves.
Then Donald became Galarraga's Bucky Dent and squirted a routine grounder between 1st and 2nd. 1st baseman Miguel Cabrera made the play and threw it to his pitcher. Galarraga got there in time, caught the ball, touched the bag a full half a second before Donald. Perfect game, right?
No, Jim Joyce shocked the baseball world by declaring Donald safe. Even the Indians shortstop was amazed and looked very unhappy, fearful, even, that he was called safe. It is perhaps the worst call in major league history and it couldn't have possibly come at a worse time.
No more perfect game. Not even a no hitter.
Galarraga just looked and smiled at Joyce as if to say, "It's OK, Jim. You're going to hell for that call."
To compound the Tigers' frustration, Joyce even looked at the replay in the umpires' locker room and immediately saw that he blew the call. He even said publicly, "I cost that kid a perfect game."
Yes you did, Jim, yes you did. It was infinitely worse than catcher Gerald Laird getting robbed of a home run earlier this week by Oakland center fielder Gabe Gross. The baseball gods just aren't smiling on the Motor City's home town team and to prove it, they sent Jim Joyce to Detroit.
It was the first time that a pitcher had been robbed of both a perfect game and a no-hitter with such an unforgivably, egregiously bad call and one that was owned up to by the umpire who made it. It reminded players and fans alike of the slings and arrows of outrageously bad umpiring to which baseball had been heir these past several years, officiating that was so horrible during last year's postseason that it resulted in two umpires getting fired.
It wasn't even a case of a perfect game being wholly dependent on a generous call, as in the case of Bruce Froemming calling ball four on Milt Pappas in 1972. At least Pappas got the no hitter. Galarraga lost the perfect game, the no hitter and had to settle for a complete game shutout.
Already long-forgotten was Austin Jackson's spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch in deep center that made fans think of Willie Mays robbing Vic Wurtz in 1954. The fact that Jim Joyce is still breathing despite being more hated than Dick Cheney, BP's Tony Hayward and Israel combined is a testament to either the Motor City's forbearance or the quality of Comerica Park's and the Detroit Police Department's security.
Jim Joyce is everything that is wrong with baseball officiating: Incompetent, arrogant and not trusted to make the proper calls even when perfectly positioned to do so. Baseball is a dishonest dinosaur that only reluctantly is being dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. Despite many blown calls being reversed since the NFL allowed challenges and instant replays, MLB still has not progressed beyond contesting home runs with video replays.
Balls and strikes judged with capriciously expanded or shrunken strike zones cannot be challenged. Umpires have such dictatorial and unimpeachable powers that you can be fined for even publicly criticizing an umpire. Arguing balls and strikes is an automatic ejection. Major sports officials are among the most arrogant people on earth aside from executives and politicians and MLB umpires are the worst of the lot.
Jim Joyce needs to retire now to preserve whatever little respect or credibility major league umpiring still deserves. He either needs to retire or the Umpiring Commissioner needs to fire him immediately. Their bad calls are literally changing the history of the game and not for the better. Galarraga needed and deserved that perfect game more than Jason Donald needed that shitty infield hit. And publicly owning up to the worst call in MLB history and privately apologizing to Galarraga is no substitute for baseball immortality.
In fact, if Jim Joyce really wants to show contrition, he should take a page from The Omen and scream, "Look, Armando, this is all for you!" before publicly hanging himself tonight during the national anthem from the gaping mouth of Comerica Park's huge plastic tiger.
Yes, I am dead serious. I would actually pay MLB.com $99.99 just to see that live.