Let us be thankful we are living in, as the Chinese say, uninteresting times. Only when there’s relative calm in the Middle East and things are going smoothly with the environment can such an incident as a blown call in a baseball game make the front page of the Daily News.
There are so many issues surrounding umpire Jim Joyce’s call that spoiled Armando Galarraga’s perfect game bid Wednesday night that trying to sort them out is like trying to shout over a debate in a sports bar during happy hour. Since we know that you, dear Voice readers, are more rational than the average fan, we’ll try to sift through mess for you:
First, the issue of whether or not it was the “worst call” of all time.
(As everyone from ESPN.com’s Tim Kurkjian to Mike Lupica in the Daily News have been saying.) Just take a deep breath and consider this for three or four seconds to see how silly it is. Worse calls are made in a game just about every day; if anyone had the energy, they could sort through a replay of Wednesday night’s Detroit-Cleveland game and find four or five calls just as bad. By “bad,” of course, what many people mean is “Bad call at an important time.”
But how can anyone safeguard against that? Jim Joyce is a respected umpire with a solid record; that he would make a bad call at that particular point in the game — with two outs in the ninth inning — is as much of a long shot as that Galarraga would pitch a perfect game.
Second, the issue of whether or not the call should be overturned. Of course not. This is a ridiculous idea, and for once Commissioner Bud Selig, in refusing to overturn the call, is taking a stand that makes some sense. In a USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted Thursday, 64 percent of those polled said the call should be reversed, but as Derek Jeter wisely phrased it, “Where does it stop, when does it start?”
And he should know. If they start overturning bad umpire’s calls, the one they would start with would be Rich Garcia’s on Derek Jeter’s fly ball to 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier in game one of the AL championship series. Simply in terms of bad calls, as in bad judgment, this was far worse than Joyce’s: Cleveland’s Jason Donald was out by just a few inches, and it wasn’t clear to some of us that he was out till we saw the instant replay. Jeter’s shot was so obviously not a home run that everyone at the ball park — including, literally, a 12-year-old, could see it.