Friday, June 4, 2010

Of mice and men

There are times in life when peoples' mettle is tested. June 2nd, 2010 was the day when MLB umpire Jim Joyce (stats) was called to prove his.

For anyone who has been living in a cave over the last 24-48 hours, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched a perfect game, almost. This as we know is statistically improbable, (unless you’re Kevin Costner and in the movies) as shown by having only 20 perfect games in history.

Galarraga didn’t pitch a perfect game however, as on the very last out of the very last inning, a batter hit a drive to center field, the ball was thrown to first, and the first baseman touched the bag BEFORE THE BATTER GOT THERE. Except that Joyce called the hitter safe. And what the ump says goes. Looking at instant replay isn’t allowed, but after the game Joyce sure looked at a replay, seems like the whole world did.

Some mice may have let it go there and been willing to wither the criticism of the informed and uninformed alike. Not Joyce, what did he do?

He started that night in the club house saying,
"I’m not sure what to say right now other than that probably was the most important call of my career, and I missed it. Nothing like this has ever happened to me, and I don’t know what to say. This isn’t (just) a call -- this is a history call, and I kicked the (crap) out of it, and there’s nobody that feels worse than I do. I take pride in this job and I kicked the (crap) out of that (call), and I took a perfect game away from that kid over there who worked his (butt) off all night."

Wow ...

He continued the next day with a tearful meeting with Galarraga during the roster exchange where Joyce was in the rotation as the home plate umpire.

He's didn't duck, hide, dodge, parry ... nothing ... he said he screwed up, took a game away from someone who deserved it, and asked for forgiveness ... which he was graciously granted by Galarraga.

It was a bitter pill no doubt, but Joyce swallowed it, first time, without question or hesitation.

That's a guy I want working in my league.

Next on my list of folks to hold in high regard for this after Joyce and Galarraga (respectively), is Bud Selig who as of this writing has decided not to invoke the "what's best for the game" rule and overturn Joyce's decision.

While I am sure the pressure was tremendous, and Selig recognized he did not want to set a precedent for any questionable decision to be reviewed and judged by the commissioner themselves, part of the decision lie in trusting his officiating crew to make a decision ... even a wrong one sometimes.

What this will do to the state of instant replay we will see in the days ahead.

This lays the groundwork for a few topics of relevance in the subjects we cover. Most notably ... what does an apology get you these days in sports? Sometimes salvation, sometimes big trouble.

Also, there was a very, very interesting comment by that last batter, Jason Donald, who said "I thought it was just so bang-bang, I thought for sure I was going to be called out just because of everything that was at stake." (emphasis added)

Just let that one sink in for a minute ... we'll get to that one soon.

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