Not necessarily Reds-related (unless it eventually leads to instant replay for all of MLB), but it’s the biggest story in baseball (and sports, really) in quite some time. Hate to see it steal Griffey thunder, but that’s what it’s doing.
Here’s one take (and it’s only mine, so don’t take out your anger on the rest of our staff :), and feel free to agree or disagree. It’s EASY to beat the crap out of Jim Joyce over this and vandalize his Wikipedia entry and launch firejimjoyce.com and bash him in a column or blog post or YouTube comment. But the more I read about Joyce’s reaction, the more I not only feel badly for Joyce (because it’s clear he regrets what he’s done and realizes what a critical mistake he made) but also admire his willingness to be held accountable and the effort he made to express to Armando Galarraga how sorry he is and how badly he feels.
Joyce is human. Humans make mistakes. All the time. Does anyone think he did this deliberately to hurt Galarraga or the Tigers? I don’t. Does anyone think he was seeking notoriety? I don’t. He blew a close call. And he didn’t have the benefit of seeing the frame-by-frame when he was making the call live. Sure, he could’ve considered what was at stake and realized there would be an outcry if he ruled the runner safe and little protest if he called him out but I think he was just trying to get it right. Which is his job. And when he didn’t, he was the first to admit it, acknowledge it and express regret. Takes a pretty big man to admit a huge mistake like that if you ask me. I don’t know many people who would have the cojones to acknowledge that they cost someone a perfect game – without it being accompanied by excuses.
Tim Kurkjian blasts Joyce repeatedly in his analysis for – as he puts it – missing the call so badly and depriving Galarraga of a perfect game. But the one interesting point he makes is that he disagrees with Joe Morgan and others who say you give the pitcher the benefit of the doubt in that situation. Kurkjian realizes the ump’s only job is to try to get the call right – regardless of the circumstances.
There are silver linings in this if you look for them. Credit Galarraga for not “going George Brett” on Joyce. As Joyce pointed out, “If I were Galarraga, I would have been the first one in my face, and he didn’t say a word to me.” That’s pretty impressive. (Jim Leyland gave Joyce a piece of his mind on Galarraga’s behalf, but he kinda had to. His teammates did too, which I found unnecessary.) And Galarraga was willing to meet with Joyce afterward and accept his sincere apology. I’m really impressed by that too.
“I give a lot of credit to that guy because he said, ‘I need to talk to you and I need to say I’m sorry.'”
The way Galarraga handled the entire situation I thought was exceptional. And professional and classy. And I’ve made the argument that Joyce should be forgiven and even commended for telling Galarraga he was sorry right after it happened. I know the kneejerk is to call for Joyce’s resignation or a public stoning or whatever, but once you step back and give him a chance to explain and reveal his heartfelt remorse, can you help but feel for him a little?