Jim Joyce Blows Perfect Game: Is It Time For Instant Replay in the MLB?

Jim Joyce shakes hands with Galarraga one day after his blown call.

Jim Joyce shakes hands with Galarraga one day after his blown call.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

All pitchers dream about perfect games. For Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, that dream was turning into a reality.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga covers first base as Cleveland Indians Jason Donald hits the bag and first base umpire Jim Joyce looks on in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the ball was grounded sharply to the right side of the infield. Miguel Cabrera tracked down the ball as Galarraga covered first on the routine grounder. The throw to first was on line, and Galarraga stepped on the bag a half-step before the runner. Cabrera threw up his arms in jubilation before looking at Jim Joyce, the first base umpire.

A single arm movement crushed the cheer that followed in Tiger Stadium. Joyce had called the runner safe. The perfect game was ruined by one lousy call.

“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the s*** out of it,” said Joyce after the game. “I just cost that kid a perfect game… I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

Joyce has been an umpire in the majors for the last 22 years. He is one of the most widely respected umpires in the game of baseball, and has had the honor of umpiring two World Series and two All-Star Games in his career.

But everything that he has done up until now will go out the window. Jim Joyce will forever be remembered as the man who blew a perfect game.

Galarraga was ready to forgive him: “You don’t see an umpire after the game

Jim Joyce shakes hands with Galarraga one day after his blown call.

come out and say, `Hey, let me tell you I’m sorry.’ He felt really bad. He didn’t even shower,” he said.

The rest of the nation, however, is unlikely to be as forgiving. There are already hundreds of Facebook pages about Jim Joyce and the blown call, most notably “Jim Joyce Sucks,” which has over 4,000 fans.

There is no doubt that Jim Joyce made a mistake. But does a single mistake in a game of baseball warrant death threats to his wife and his child? The answer is undoubtedly a resounding no.

The question then becomes what we can do in the future to avoid similar situations where an umpire is receiving unfair threats and hatred.

The answer? Instant replay.

Instant replay is currently used in many major professional sports as a backup plan for making sure that calls are correct. In football, coaches can challenge the call. In tennis, the players themselves have the option of challenging. And in basketball, replay is used occasionally to check if a player’s foot was on the three point line on a shot, as well as to check goaltending. So why not use instant replay in the MLB?

My proposal is this: Give each manager one challenge per game, with balls and strikes not being available for challenge. Home runs would be automatically reviewable, which is the same as the current rule.

Having one challenge per game would allow managers to dispute calls that are extremely important to the game and to make sure that the call is correct. Also, it would keep the integrity of the game because managers would still be running out of the dugout to argue balls and strikes, which is a very important tradition in baseball.

Hopefully in the future baseball will be able to implement a policy for challenging that helps to make sure important calls are upheld, while still retaining the integrity of the game. Umpires like Jim Joyce don’t deserve the amount of negativity that has been directed at him, and the only way to prevent against it is to make sure that the call is correct in the game.

It’s time for instant replay in the MLB. Let’s hope that Bud Selig can step up and make the right decision.

Jesse Buchsbaum can be reached at jessebux@yahoo.com.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email