Tag Archives: umpires

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.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Going Nuclear….Kim Jung Il, Carlos Zambrano and Padre Steve get Sporty

This week we witnessed a couple of big explosions, that of a nuclear test conducted by North Korea and one at Wrigley Field conducted by Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano.  Both were pretty sporty.  However, there the difference is more than one being the test of a weapon of mass destruction and the other an emotional response after a close play at home.   One was a deliberate premeditated act and the other in some sense a “crime of passion.”  They are very different types of acts.

North Korea under the despotic Kim Jung Il decided to give the big fat flying middle finger to the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.  It is interesting that even the Russians and Chinese seem kind of pissed about what the boy named Kim did.  Kim now known as the “Great Leader” having been promoted from simply the “Dear Leader” is kind of wacky but in a dangerous sort of way.  The surly North Koreans then decided that they no longer considered the 1954 armistice valid.  This of course raised the pucker factor on the Korean peninsula and Japan.  Nukes are serious stuff, ask the Japanese.  I remember back in 2002 when my ship, the USS Hue City was deployed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom the Indians and Pakistanis came perilously close to a nuclear confrontation.  We were in between the Indian and Pakistani fleets and their patrol aircraft buzzed us frequently.  It was as my Captain said “A bit sporty.”   Back in my days as a Company XO and Company Commander in Cold War Germany we waited for the day that the Russian would come across the Fulda Gap.  While there I was trained as a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Defense Officer.  The training was kind of cool.  We got to learn how much radiation, measured in “Rads” that we could take and live.  We learned about blast effects, fallout patterns and decoding EAM’s.  The really cool yet scary thing was that the 1:50,000 maps we used to plot the fallout patterns showed our housing areas.  It really brought home that this was not a game.  When the nuclear plant at Chernobyl had its little meltdown the radiation cloud actually went over where we lived.  I think this is why some people refer to me having a “glowing” personality.  So what the nutty North Koreans have done is kind of serious.  Of course they do crazy stuff all the time, but this appears to be their first successful nuke test and significantly raises the stakes.  Of course I want this to pass as it is baseball season and for the first time I have season tickets.  I don’t want a huge war to screw this up.  Of course I want it to not happen at all, but if it does I would prefer it to wait until after the baseball season is over.

Speaking of baseball, Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano was suspended for six games following this meltdown.

http://cubs.fandome.com/video/112492/Carlos-Zambrano-Tantrum-May-27-2009/

Now I will not cast stones at Zambrano.  He plays with passionate fire and really strives for excellence. I have seen him pitch and he is amazing.  I love to watch him and only wished that he pitched for the Giants.  I have a passion for what I do and want to be the best at that I can.  Like Zambrano I have had similar meltdowns when I have felt like I was getting screwed, be it by an umpire or someone else.  I have been tossed from church softball games, pulled aside by coaches and when I watch Zambrano doing his thing I want to hide because I have done this before…well I didn’t take a bat to a Gatorade cooler, but had we had one I might have.  I have thrown things, kicked dirt on umpires and got in people’s faces.  As noted in a previous post when I was in the Army I got thrown out of the officer advanced course and did not help myself by having a Zambrano like meltdown in the process.  I was so lucky to have Chaplain Rich Whaley save me on several occasions both when I got thrown out and when I was the assistance course leader of my Chaplain Officer Basic Course.  With my PTSD I had a number of meltdowns at the tail end of my Iraq tour, before I knew I was whacked out, and have had my moments since I came home.

Now to be fair to me, I am not proud of those kind of outbursts. I usually feel worse afterward because I don’t like being out of control.  I like to control my emotions and stay calm.  I am like a Romulan in that aspect.  I try to keep myself in perfect control but can blow it big, unlike my Vulcan cousins.  I have been fortunate.  First I had people who helped ensure that I did not destroy my Army career.  Likewise, I have had a number of people in my life since I have come back from Iraq help me learn to manage this.  In fact I was able to step back from the brink at one Chaplain Conference where I thought the main presenter had ambushed me and violated essential facets of how cases are presented. I discussed the matter with my colleagues and run a plan by my Department Head on how to publicly address the situation, get my point across and not look like an ass in doing so.  It was like doing a “brush back” pitch rather than a “bean ball.”  I was controlled and afterward got out before I could do anything stupid while department head smoothed ruffled feathers.  The audience was pretty much in a state of shock when I did this, many in sat in silence as I finished and a number of my colleagues who felt the same way as I applauded when I finished.  I left the room and a colleague came out with me and walked with me for a while to make sure that I was okay.  I avoided going nuclear.  I didn’t get tossed this time.  It was a victory.  At the same time I know that when I start playing softball or old man baseball again I will get fired up, and probably like Zambrano tossed out.  If I go into coaching I will probably have arguments with the umpires and hopefully they will not be like this classic Minor League blow up…talk about nukes.  This one is for the ages:

http://www.fandome.com/video/102293/Mississippi-Braves-Manager-Goes-Crazy/

Anyway, I do thank the Deity Herself from keeping me safe from my own tirades and am glad for all those who help me stay in the game and keep my head now.  Because of them and others who have both helped and protected me in the past I hope to be able to mentor and teach others.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Foreign Policy, Loose thoughts and musings, Military, PTSD