What Jim Joyce SHOULD Have Done After Blowing Armando Galaragga’s Perfect Game

by JoeDelGrippo

It was two seasons ago in a men’s wood bat summer league game. It is a good league, with great competition, plus many former (and at least one current) major leaguers as alumni.

I was base umpire, situated behind the pitcher’s mound in a two-man team. Man on first, one out, late in a tied game.

Batter hits a ground ball to the hole in short, throw is made to second for the force out, then the relay is made to first.

Bang-bang play and I signal OUT! Double play and inning over.

There were complaints from the batter/runner and first base coach, the hitting teams bench (of course); while the other side let out a couple “All Right’s.” A few seconds later after the batter/runner said, “you blew it” I headed to the fence to take a break before the next inning started.

I had the feeling I blew the call.

One of the fan’s on the fielding teams side said to me, “It looked like he was safe.” I already realized I blew the call, but the fan’s comment cinched my realization.

The funny thing is that I DID see an out. He looked out and I called him out. I saw foot of the first baseman on the bag, ball in glove, then the runner hitting the bag.

I did not have the ability to get help from the home plate umpire because I saw the foot on the bag.

But Jim Joyce did have the option of reversing last night’s call on the field.

Everyone now knows what happened. Armando Galarraga had a perfect game taken from him by Joyce’s bad call at first base. It was the 27th (and final out) of a perfect game, and Galarraga would have been immortalized in baseball history.*

*Funny thing is that Galarraga IS IMMORTALIZED as the guy who lost a perfect game, not bad by a final hit like Mike Mussina had happen to him in 2001, or bad like the 9th inning, one-out hit Tom Seaver had happen to him in 1969. But it was nearly as bad as Milt Pappas’ perfect game bid in 1972, when Bruce Froemming (like Joyce, another respected umpire) called two straight two-strike reallyclose pitches each a ball.

This is slighlty different than the 9 inning perfect game Pedro Martinez had with the Montreal Expos in 1995 who then allowed a double leading off the 10th inning of the 0-0 tie game, or Harvey Haddix’ 12 inning perfect masterpiece in 1959.

What advantage did Joyce have that I didn’t? He had the option of asking the home plate umpire for help on the call.

Similar to my situation when I realized a couple of seconds afterwards that I probably blew the call, Joyce must have realized that he might have blow his call, too. Especially when the batter, Jason Donald, had his hands on his head in disbelief.

But in the time it took Jim Leyland to come out on the field to ask about the call (about 21 seconds), Joyce could have said to Leyland that he did not see Galarraga’s foot hit the bag. Then Leyland would have asked for help on the call from the home plate umpire, and Joyce would have gone to ask the home plate umpire if the fielder’s foot was on the bag.

Many times on close plays the umpire’s view of the foot on the bag can be obstructed, mainly on wide throws which pull the first baseman off the bag. Sometimes you can’t see the foot on the bag.

That is why on close plays where the pitcher has to cover first, the first base umpire moves into foul territory near the first base coaches box to see everything up close. That is the correct position.

In this case, because of Joyce’s incorrect vantage point, it could have been that Galarraga’s body “obstructed” Joyce’s view of the foot hitting the bag. At least that should have been Joyce’s thought process.

Since he was in the incorrect position for that type of play, Joyce needed to think quickly to save himself.

Joyce could have said to the home plate umpire, “I had a catch on the ball, and did not see the fielder’s foot hit the bag. Did you see the foot on the bag?”

I bet the home plate umpire would have said, “Yes, I had the foot on the bag.”

Runner out, game over and perfect game intact.

The home plate umpire’s job in that situation is to come out in front of the plate, watch the bag to see if the fielder touches the bag with his foot. There have been several times I have umpired games where calls have been reversed on the same exact play.

In that situation, Joyce would have been the hero instead of the goat. He would have made the decision for safe on what he saw because he has to make an immediate call, but asked for help to get the call right when asked for an appeal by the manager.

The rules are sketchy but that play (especially in that instance) can be appealed when the umpire says his view was obstructed.

Under ML Rule 9.02 (a) it states that any judgment call such as out or safe at a bag is final. But 9.02 (b) states any umpire’s decision in which may be in conflict with the rules, the manager may appeal the decision and ask that a correct ruling be made.

That conflict of rules is the sketchy area but is usually granted by teams in tough situations. This includes cases such as missed calls due to being out of position , but also includes cases where something might be missed on a play being too quick. Think check swing and asking for help or help on if a batted ball hits the batters foot.

Those types of plays are extremely difficult for a home plate umpire to make an accurate call, and many times help is needed.

Then 9.02 (c) states that if an appeal is made by the manager, the umpire who made the call has the right to ask for help and gather more information from other umpire’s. After this new information is presented, only the umpire who made the original call has the authority to reverse that call.

If Jim Joyce was thinking quickly, he could have said he didn’t see the foot hit the bag, got an appeal, asked for help and made the correct call.

Like I mentioned earlier, batter out, game over and perfect game intact. And everyone is a hero for doing the right thing.

I do not think that Jason Donald or Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta would have argued….much.

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17 Responses to “What Jim Joyce SHOULD Have Done After Blowing Armando Galaragga’s Perfect Game”

  1. Hossrex Says:

    Joe DelGrippo: “What Jim Joyce SHOULD Have Done”

    The correct answer is say nothing, and retire immediately.

    Joe DelGrippo: “Bruce Froemming (like Joyce, another respected umpire)

    Bruce Froemming was never respected. In the exact same way you always know something is going to be royally F’ED up when you see the crew with BOTH Angel Hernandez, and (the worst umpire in the game) Coyboy Joe West, you always knew something was going to go all fubar’d, and it was probably going to be his fault somehow.

  2. Chuck Says:

    If an umpire puts himself in the correct position to make a call, it really is hard to miss it.

    Not only do you use your eyes, but your ears. The sound of a ball hitting a glove is much different than a foot hitting a base.

    The crowd noise may have prevented Joyce from “listening” for the correct call, but we’ll never know since he was so far out of position.

    I really don’t have a problem with the blown call..shit happens, you know?

    There is no excuse for not being in the right place to do your job.

  3. John Says:

    Chuck, how was Joyce out of position? Where should he have been standing. It looked like there was a direct line of sight.

  4. Chuck Says:

    He should have been in foul territory, a few feet up the line. He has to be in position to see the runner, the pitcher, and the throw at the same time. Other than his pre-pitch positioning and to make the call on a fair/foul ball, a first base umpire should NEVER be on the line to make a call, and NEVER that far from the bag.

  5. Jim Says:

    Beyond simple pigheadedness, I don’t understand why umps don’t ask for input more often on controversial calls. Getting it right is best for the game and getting it right on the field is better than instant replay.

    Why are umps out of position so often and what can be done about it?

  6. Seven Says:

    I completely disagree with all the backlash to change this call. Joyce was the first base umpire. It was his call and his call alone. Not the three other umpires, not some theoretical replay judge, not Bud Selig. Once an umpire makes a JUDGMENT CALL at his base, the decision is final. That umpire has ultimate authority. End of story.

    Joyce knows he blew it and probably feels terrible. That’s life. If you think there should be consequences for being out of position, fine. That’s a different argument. If you want umpires to confer on every single play, that’s yet again a different argument. Or to take it a step further, some people probably think we should do away with the human element altogether.

    Maybe we’ll get to that point some day. But right now we’re not. He made a judgment call and was wrong. It happens all the time. Get over it.

  7. Hossrex Says:

    Seven: “I completely disagree with all the backlash to change this call.”

    When I woke up the morning after the nun-perfect game, and saw that ACTUAL “sports” shows were talking about the possibility of Bud Selig changing the call, to the point where Bud had to ACTUALLY make a statement he wasn’t going to change it, I almost shat myself laughing.

    Rest assured Seven. There wasn’t a person in the country who knows ANYTHING about baseball who was either calling for the call to be overturned, or expecting the call to be overturned.

    1: Baseball just doesn’t work like that (ESPECIALLY since there was a play after that. Once a further play happens, the previous play, and ALL BEFORE IT are forever locked into history).

    2: It would be the biggest pussy ass perfect game of all time, but it would be the perfect topper to all the Galaraga, and Joyce crying antics I’ve had to watch the last few days. Maybe if Bud changed the call, those two guys could just get a room, and have some angry make up sex.


  8. Brautigan Says:

    About the only thing that could have happened is if the official scorer changed the call from single to error. (there were reports that another video angle showed Armando “juggling” the ball. I haven’t seen THAT video, so I cannot say whether that is accurate or not). If indeed there was a “juggle”, then the scorer had 24 hours to change the call……and he did not.

    There have been more calls for instant replay. I hope not, it is amazing how many times these umpires get the call right, and I would hate to change that status. I am ok with the video for home run balls, but anything else would be a travesty.

  9. Hossrex Says:

    Braut: “there were reports that another video angle showed Armando “juggling” the ball.”

    When I was watching the first highlights coming in of the play, and saw him called safe at first, I was sure it was because he didn’t have control of the ball. Even in the one angle you see, the ball looks to be at least snow coned in the glove.

    Maybe Joyce should have just said that, instead of “bawwing” like a baby, and making bizarre facebook posts about how he hates ESPN (I mean… so do I… but for different reasons).

  10. Patrick Says:

    If baseball changed this to a perfect game it would be right up there with the bailout as the all-time un-American events.

    As it stands, Galaragga’s gem will go down as the most memorable “perfect” game since Don Larsen’s.

  11. Dean M Says:

    “As it stands, Galaragga’s gem will go down as the most memorable “perfect” game since Don Larsen’s.”

    But uhmm…it’s not a perfect game you see. And it won’t be listed as such. Selig is and always has been a boob.

  12. Joseph DelGrippo Says:

    That is why the word “perfect” was in quotes.

  13. Hossrex Says:

    No one ever accused Dean of being “just too darn smart”.

    He “likes” Joe Morgan.

  14. John Says:

    Thought: someone should write an article about how much Joe Morgan sucks because EVERYONE agrees on that. Peace and harmony throughout DC!

    Wait. Someone already did that but with a giant effing blog…

  15. Chuck Says:

    You mean the worst site in internet history which is no longer operational?

  16. Chuck Says:



  17. Hossrex Says:

    When Pedro Martinez came up with the Dodgers a reporter commented that his delivery reminded him of Sandy Koufax. When asked what Pedro thought of the comparison, Pedro asked who she was.

    The point being… how many umpires do you think the players could even name?

    Joyce was the Umpire Du-Jour last week, and probably the only umpire half the players could name.

    The irony of being called the best umpire in baseball BECAUSE you screwed up though, is an irony so flavorful I’ll probably have that nasty shit taste in my mouth all night.

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