Daily Archives: June 2, 2010

Blown Call by Umpire Jim Joyce ends Armando Galarraga’s Perfect Game: It is time for the “Eye in the Sky”

Armando Galarraga pitching for Toledo at Harbor Park against the Tides

On one of the most glaring bad calls that I can remember Umpire Jim Joyce ended the perfect game attempt of Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga at what appeared to be the 27th out at first base. As the good people at ESPN switched the coverage from the Reds and Cardinals to the game between the Tigers and the Cleveland Indians I watched in anticipation of what should have been the third perfect game of the 2010 season, a feat that has never happened in the history of Major League Baseball.

See the play here: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=8616789

With two outs in the top of the 9th and having a 3-0 lead Jason Donald hit a 0-2 slider to Tigers First Baseman Miguel Cabrera who tossed to Galarraga as he covered first. As Galarraga touched the base well ahead of Donald Joyce called the runner safe causing an almost audible collective gasp from those present and those watching on television like me.  Tigers Manager Jim Leyland immediately argued the call to no avail and an incredulous Galarraga was left to complete a one hitter.

Now perfect games get broken up all the time, usually to a hit, error or walk which allows the 28th batter to come to the plate regardless of what inning it occurs. Everyone in baseball is disappointed when a perfect game is broken up in the 9th inning, but usually because it occurs in the context of normal baseball plays it does not have the impact that this call had.

Had the call been correct Galarraga would have joined Dallas Braden of the Athletics and Roy Halliday to throw a perfect game this season, a season that is turning out to be the year of the return of the pitcher.  Galarraga who just weeks ago was pitching for AAA Toledo should have had the perfect game.  I am sure that this will renew calls for the expanded use of replay but however much this appeals my overwhelming desire to see justice done for Galarraga the ideas that I have heard don’t seem to work. My idea during last year’s horrible umpiring of the playoffs was to have an umpire in the stadium with replay in front of him and if something was an obvious blown call have the immediate opportunity to review or reverse the call and notify the umpiring crew of his decision. This would have been an opportune time for such a mechanism.  Of course some would argue against this as I would have even up until last year.

Jim Joyce is a 22 year veteran of the Major League Baseball umpire corps. He is well regarded. He has given good service to the game and umpired in the playoffs and the World Series but he will now be remembered more for this than all the rest of his career.  However with calls like this, together with the calls made in the 2009 playoff season and the rash of questionable ejections issued on what seems like an almost nightly basis by umpires for things that shouldn’t warrant an ejection I am scratching my head in bewilderment as to what to do to see better umpired games.

The fact is now that some umpires are becoming either through poor calls or confrontations with players and manager a distraction to the game. They are becoming the center of attention and certainly have no understanding of what umpiring legend Bill Klemm said “The best umpired game is the game in which the fans cannot recall the umpires who worked it.” Fans around the country will remember Jim Joyce as the umpire that blew the call that robbed a pitcher, a team and baseball fans around the country of a perfect game.

Joyce apologized saying “I just cost that kid a perfect game…it was the biggest call in my career.” but Joyce according to his post game statement was sure that Donald was safe and that it was not close until he saw the replay, it was a demonstration that sometimes even outstanding umpires get it wrong and that it was an honest mistake as terrible as it was.

Now to be fair to Joyce he did apologize and he meant it of that I am sure. He seems to have more class than some of the umpires that have made bad calls and not taken the hit after the game by admitting that they were wrong and also those that have seemed to be looking to be in the spotlight by throwing out players and managers for the most ludicrous reasons.  I know that Joyce made a mistake and he knows it and from what I see from Jim Leyland and Armando Galarraga’s statements after the game to they know that Joyce knows and is sorry for the call. Galarraga said afterward:

“I mean, a lot of respect because he [Joyce] feels so bad. He really feels bad, he probably feels more bad than me… everybody’s human… I understand, and I give the guy a lot of credit for saying, hey I really need to talk to you, to say I’m sorry. And that’s not happen really, the umpire apologize.”

All the people involved in the incident, Galarraga, Leyland and Joyce handed the situation with grace and dignity. There was no acrimony at the end of the game which is one of the things that makes baseball such a great game.

It can’t be taken back now but had there been a “eye in the sky” umpire as I suggest the call would have been reversed, everyone would have forgotten the bad call and Galarraga would have his perfect game. It would have protected Joyce and preserved the integrity of the game. I feel bad for both Galarraga and Joyce; they are victims of a system that has refused to adapt a very simple remedy to prevent such occurrences.  It is time to use an umpire to be an “eye in the sky” to get these things right. It could be done with little interruption to the game and without the absurd spectacle of the NFL’s replay system. The institution of this would help maintain the integrity of the game and it should be voted on an approved by MLB at the earliest opportunity.


Padre Steve+


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Tides Defeat Rochester 4-3 as Cla Meredith gets the “Unsave”

Chris George pitched a great game but was left with a no-decision

The Norfolk Tides took the second game of their four game set against the Rochester Red Wings behind solid pitching by Chris George and Denis Sarfate.  With the game time temperature at a comfortable 75 degrees and a light 5 mile and hour wind blowing out to center field under clear skies it was a beautiful western New York night for baseball in front of just under 5000 fans.

The game began on the wrong foot for the Tides when on the second pitch of the game Jason Repko hit a ground ball to third which Josh Bell mishandled and was charged with an error. Repko stole second and took third on a ground out by Brian Dinkelman. He would score on a single by Trevor Plouffe.  This would be the only run allowed while George was pitching and was unearned.  The Red Wings did not score again until the bottom of the 8th inning.

In 6.2 innings work George gave up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 Red Wing batters. Rochester starting pitcher Glen Perkins held the Tides in check until the 4th inning. In the fourth Josh Bell hammered his 16th double of the season and Nolan Reimold still digging out of his horrific hitting slump on his arrival in Norfolk then singled.  Paco Figueroa came up next and singled to score Bell and was followed by Adam Donachie who singled to drive in Reimold giving the Tides a 2-1 lead.  George would get the first two batters of the 7th inning but after hitting Brian Dinkelman with a pitch was relieved by Ross Wolf who got the next batter, Trevor Plouffe to ground out to Brandon Snyder at first.  In the top frame of the 8th inning the Tides scored again.  Robert Andino doubled to lead the inning off of Red Wings reliever pitcher Brad Hennessy.  Hennessy intentionally walked Josh Bell and got Nolan Reimold to pop up to first base for the second out. Brandon Snyder came up to the plate and singled the first pitch delivered by Hennessy into center field which scored Andino.

In the bottom of the 8th the Tides brought in newly activated relief pitcher Cla Meredith who had been optioned to Norfolk from the O’s late last week. Matt Macri singled to lead off the inning and Meredith walked Brock Peterson.  Wilson Ramos advanced both runners on a sacrifice bunt to first base and Meredith struck out Jose Morales.  On a 0-2 count Dustin Martin singled to drive in Macri and Ramos to tie the game, which netted Meredith his first blown save in Norfolk.  He was able to retire Jason Repko to end the inning.

In the top of the 9th with one out Joey Gathright singled on a ground ball to second and advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Brian Dinkelman and Matt Angle singled to bring Gathright home to retake the lead for the Tides. In the bottom frame the Tides brought in Denis Sarfate sent the Wings down in order on 12 pitches for his 4th save of the season.

Cla Meredith got what I am going to start calling the “unsave” instead of a standard “blown save.” The definition that I give to the “unsave” is a blown save where the reliever who blows the save ends up getting the win.  It’s kind of like when 7-Up was called the “uncola” it’s not a save and yet it doesn’t have the same sting as a blown save, unless perhaps you are the pitcher that would have had a win had the reliever not blown the save. Unsaves are kind of wins that a pitcher falls into as he has to blow the save to get the win which if you think about it is not a way that you want to win if you can avoid it. But anyway I digress.

The Tides had 4 runs on 12 hits with 1 error and left 10 on base while the Red Wings had 3 runs on 8 hits and 1 error and also left 10 men on base.  Cla Meredith (1-0 18.00 ERA) got the win for the Tides and Denis Sarfate (0-0 S4 1.15 ERA) the save. Anthony Slama (0-1 1.80 ERA) took the loss for the Wings. Tonight the teams play game three of this series with Troy Patton (3-6 5.70 ERA) who dominated Pawtucket in his last start taking the hill for the Tides and Matt Fox (4-2 2.44 ERA) pitching for the home team.

The Orioles lost their sixth straight, this time to the New York Yankees as Miguel Tejada committed an error which allowed two runs to score giving the loss to Brian Matusz who only allowed one earned run to the powerful Yankees attack.  The loss dropped the O’s to 15-37with a .288 winning percentage.  Things do not look any brighter tonight as the Yankees have a 6-0 lead in the 5th having driven Brad Bergeson from the game.


Padre Steve+

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June 1944 and June 2010: Fog Friction and the Unexpected Events that Influence History

The Normandy Invasion

There are few months in history when the courses of events change in a global sense, however the month of June 1944 was one of them. In June 1944 the Allies were on the offensive. The initiative had shifted to their favor in every theater of the war. On June first 1st 1944 the United States and Britain were preparing to cross the English Channel and invade France at Normandy.  In Italy Allied Forces were moving forward after a long series of battles at Salerno, Monte Casino, the Rapido River and Anzio the US 5th Army was closing in on Rome.  In Russia the Red Army was preparing for its summer offensive aimed at the destruction of the German Army Group Center.  In Central Pacific US Navy and Marine Forces with some attached Army units were sailing to invade the Marinas islands and into a confrontation with the bulk of the Imperial Japanese Navy which was planning to attempt the destruction of the US Fleet and invasion forces.  In offices and headquarters around Germany and occupied Europe senior military officers, politicians, police officials and members of the intelligentsia and clergy were plotting a coup to kill Hitler and drive the Nazis from power.  In the United States President Roosevelt was running for re-election for the 3rd time, it was a time when the world hung in the balance and while each adversary had a desired outcome none was sure.

In fact D-Day was a very near run thing and Rome was surrendered by the Germans without a fight that might have bled the Allies in Italy dry, the Germans were quite adept at defense in built up areas and the Soviets benefited greatly from the withholding of vital reinforcements from the front by the Command of the German Replacement Army which was deeply involved in the plot to overthrow Hitler and keeping large numbers of divisions in Germany to assist them to take over when Hitler was killed.  In the Pacific the Admiral Nimitz and his subordinates commanded a fleet like none before yet still faced many unknowns that could derail the campaign if they were not careful.  The lives of millions of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen from a host of nations as well as noncombatants in almost every theater of the war depended on decisions made in carious capitals, military and naval headquarters and such annoying things as weather, logistics and the “fog of war” as Clausewitz so aptly put it.  In fact once the die was cast and the battle joined on all of these fields of battle decisions of junior commanders and even small units would play major roles in the outcomes and the plans of the various nations would have to be adjusted as no plan survives contact with the enemy.

Carl Von Clausewitz in his book “On War” developed the understanding of “the fog of war”

That is the way that history tends to develop.  The participants see the events around them, make plans and make assumptions. They do this in the hopes of achieving an outcome that favors them and their cause yet at the end of the day no matter how well they plan, whatever advantages or disadvantages they or their opponents have are subject to chance once the die is cast, unexpected circumstances events and seemingly innocuous choices lay waste to the most carefully crafted plans.  Add to this the mistakes and actions of even the most modest and unassuming people, failures of equipment, the introduction of new or unexpected weaponry, tactics or operational concepts and the fog becomes thicker and friction greater.   Finally there is the success or failure of the boring aspects of war such as logistics, economics, industrial production and the respective national will of each nation all affect the outcome of conflict as the failure of a simple part of a system can have catastrophic results.

Iranian Missile Boat and UH-1 Helicopter…What will happen in June 2010?

One has to ask what ifs when dealing with events in times of war, conflict and economic chaos and this is exactly the world that we live in today.  I do not need to recite the numerous areas of war and conflict around the globe but in each case the participants all have desired outcomes which whether grounded in reality or not influence their actions and their responses to competitors in given situations. The United States is trying to withdraw US combat forces from Iraq and at the same time launch a major offensive at the spiritual heart of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Additionally the US is working with Allies to prevent Iran from developing or obtaining a nuclear weapon and attempt to garner a settlement in the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and conflict with Hezbollah.  Any of this missions would be difficult enough on its own but the United States like all major powers has other concerns and when North Korea sinks a South Korean ship, a clash erupts between Israel and groups attempting to breach the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian Authority all the while natural and commercial disasters impact the US, our economy and the environment.  At home the country faces continued terrorist threats from radical Moslem extremist groups as well as a crisis at its southern border. To cap everything off the political division in the country adds yet another complication to an already muddled mess.

All of this as well as things that I have not mentioned or that we don’t expect to happen impact military plans and operations around the world just as unexpected and unplanned for events impacted what happened in that fateful month of June 1944.  What will happen in June of 2010?  God only knows, the best laid plans of mice and men are often rudely disrupted by the uncertainty of the fog of war as well as the unexpected events that seem to occur when they are the least convenient for us.  It will be interesting to see what the world likes like by the end of the summer.  God have mercy on us.


Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, Military, national security, world war two in europe, world war two in the pacific