Umpire Jim Joyce did the seemingly impossible tonight by further disgracing the reputation of Major League Baseball umpires. While Joyce is widely regarded as a good umpire, he made a call in tonight’s Tigers game against the Cleveland Indians that was nothing less than a travesty.
In the ninth inning and with two outs, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was bidding to be the third pitcher this season, and the 21st of all time, to pitch a perfect game. On a ground ball off the bat of Jason Donald to Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Galarraga covered first base. To the naked eye, it seemed to be a close play. Joyce called Donald safe. Replays showed that Donald was clearly out. In fact, it really was not even that close.
While the National Football League has instant replay, Major League Baseball has largely avoided using the technology to correct blown calls. The lone exception for baseball is the sport’s use of instant replay to correct home run calls. In comparison to the NFL, baseball’s limited replay use is rarely used. Thanks to Jim Joyce’s sheer incompetence tonight, however, Major League Baseball will be forced to investigate the expanded use of instant replay in time for the 2011 season.
While undeniably a major part of sports is the human element, Major League Baseball umpires have become a laughingstock. In last year’s postseason, with the whole country watching, call after call were blown. And we are not talking about difficult or borderline calls. We are talking about obvious ones that should not be missed.
While the final result of the game tonight was not effected in terms of which team won the game, baseball history was changed due to an umpire simply not doing his job. While umpires have generally been against instant replay, they continue to prove that they are not up to the challenge of making basic calls in big situations.
Whether it be because of laziness, incompetence or lack of discipline, the game is risking becoming a total joke. If an umpire cannot get an obvious call right as a pitcher bids for history, it is inevitable that a major playoff or World Series game will be decided on umpire incompetence.
While I will hope that Jim Joyce takes pride in his job and feels worse than anybody tonight, it’s time for Major League Baseball to take its head out of the sand and realize that its umpires cannot do the job properly. It is time to take it out of the hands of umpires like Jim Joyce and turn it over to instant replay.
Source: Associated Press, “Blown call costs Tigers’ Galarraga perfect game”, espn.com