Jim Joyce may have cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game, but he's still the best blue in the business.
According to ESPN.com, Joyce was voted the game's best umpire in an ESPN The Magazine Baseball Confidential poll of 100 major leaguers.
The poll surveyed 100 big leaguers and asked them a variety of questions about umpiring and the potential institution of instant replay for close calls. Players polled were asked to name the three best and worst umpires in their opinion.
Joyce showed up on 53 percent of the ballots for best umpire, which was easily the highest score. Tim McClelland finished second on 34 percent of the ballots, and Jim Wolf appeared on 15 percent of the ballots.
Joyce admittedly missed a call at first base in a June 2 game that cost Galarraga a perfect game, but an unnamed player called Joyce "seriously one of the best umpires around." In regards to the Galarraga fiasco, the player added: "He always makes it fair, so players love him. Everyone makes mistakes, and it's terrible that this happened to him."
CB Bucknor was rated the game's worst umpire by players polled, appearing on 37 percent of the surveys. Joe West finished second at 35 percent. West, known for having a very short temper, was also named “baseball’s quickest hook” for his tendency to eject players at a moment’s notice. Angel Hernandez was third at 22 percent.
The survey also asked players for their thoughts on the idea of instituting instant replay to help umpires make the right call. Players were asked whether they thought replay should be used to help with close plays on the bases and determining whether a ball is fair or foul. In both cases, the answer was a resounding no.
This is probably a reflection of the overall confidence that players have in umpires. When asked to grade the performance of the men in blue, the average letter grade reported was a “B.”
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