Joyce made one of the most glaringly bad calls in recent memory, calling Jason Donald safe on what should’ve been the final out in Armando Gallaraga’s perfect game. Instead, Donald was called safe, and bedlam ensued at Comerica Park.
Joyce is generally considered a good umpire, but he somehow missed a clear call. How he didn’t lean toward a pitcher with 26 consecutive outs with the game on the line is hard to fathom.
The fact that Galarraga didn’t lose his cool is equally hard to fathom. The 28-year old pitcher simply smiled, trying to hide the emotions that had to be swirling inside of him. He covered the bag, he had the ball, perfection was his.
Only it wasn’t.
Instead, it was the first perfect game lost with two outs in the ninth since Carl Everett broke up Mike Mussina’s bid at Fenway Park on September 2, 2001. And MLB umpiring was once again in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
(By the way, can someone explain to me why the official scorer — the home scorer — didn’t change the call from a hit to an error? After all, if Joyce thought he bobbled the ball, then it should’ve been an error. He had the play at first; it was either an out or an error. Change the scoring, and give Galarraga a no-hitter.)
The problem for Jim Joyce, and for baseball, was that anyone with a fairly decent high-definition television could see Donald was out. It was a national referendum on Joyce’s split-second call — and no one watching agreed with the man in blue. Ultimately, after the game, Joyce admitted he blew the call.
That’s why this is such an outrage. And it can be so easily fixed.
Baseball needs to broaden its use of instant replay. It’s already used for home run calls, but it’s clear the need is here to use it for more plays. Terry Francona has long advocated adding an umpire in the press box with video replay in front of him. He could easily review the call and signal whether the call was right or wrong.
On Wednesday night, in Detroit, the umpire would’ve signaled that Joyce got it wrong. An injustice would be righted, and Galarraga would have his perfect game.