Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Defense of...(gulp) Umpires

OK everyone. Time to take a breath…I’m about to defend an umpire.

Last night’s blown call in the Detroit Tigers/Cleveland Indians game is not the end of the world.

Record books don’t need to be re-written. Umpires don’t need to be fired. And certainly, umpires families don’t need to be threatened…

Because all that happened last night was…well…life.

In case you missed it, Armando Galarraga took a perfect game into the 9th inning against the Cleveland Indians. On what should have been the last play of the game, the hitter for the Indians hit a ground ball to the right of first base. Miguel Cabrera picked it up and threw to Galarraga who was covering 1st base. The runner was out by half a step, and Galarraga should have begun celebrating a perfect game.

But he couldn’t. Because Jim Joyce, the umpire, called the runner safe. In case you missed it, here’s the clip.

Now, Joyce has apologized for blowing the call. Galarraga has accepted the apology. Why the uproar? Some people are upset because Major League Baseball is refusing to overturn the result and award a perfect game to Armando Galarraga.

Why should they?

Baseball has always had a human element to it. There have always been blown calls. Mistakes are sometimes made as the ones who call the game are human. And let’s remember that. Baseball history reflects this. Why change now? Now, if you want to make the argument that baseball should incorporate more instant replay, I’ll certainly listen to that, but to change results of games based on a mistake? That would take away from one of the great things about sports: Sometimes, it’s a microcosm of life that we can learn from.

Every once in a while in life, mistakes are made, either by ourselves or someone around us. One of the things we need to learn in life is how to deal with the mistakes. There’s no DeLorean with a flux capacitor that lets you go back in time and fix what you did wrong. So really, all you can do is apologize and move on. And that’s exactly what these two classy individuals are doing. An apology was extended and accepted. What better lesson could we learn from this? Sometimes, life is not fair. Should Galarraga have a perfect game? Absolutely. Is it unfair that he doesn’t? Absolutely.

But that’s life, people.

There’s also an uproar from people calling for Joyce to be fired. These crazy nutjobs (and especially the ones who should be locked up for threatening his family) need to remember one simple thing: Everyone is human. Everyone makes mistakes. The mistakes you and I make may not make national news, but they happen. When you make a mistake on your job, do you get fired? Probably not. You learn from it, and you move on. Which is exactly what Jim Joyce should be able to do now, especially since the one he wronged accepted the apology and is moving on.

And we should do the same.


  1. Yeah, I feel bad for Galarraga, but I think I would have made the same call. It really is hard to tell when it's that close, and the tie goes to the runner. But, ouch, perfect games are so rare.

  2. Even better, Joyce and Galarraga really came together and were pretty classy about it all. (You catch Galarraga and teammates almost start to celebrate, then his wry smile ...) I'm not a big fan of the "always done it this way" point -- what choice did they have to include video replay or not back in 1850s? My priority is to get calls right with what you have available: it seems silly and a shame when a TV viewer can see an ump's mistake from across the country or around the world, but we're required to stick with the incorrect call, no?

    Granted, this is not life/death, and doesn't have eternal significance, but the baseball plays that occurred did in fact comprise a perfect game, even by Joyce's own opinion now -- that sure would be a nice thing to have on the professional resume.

    But on another note, why all the perfect games this season?!? I thought these things were supposed to be rare!

  3. What do you mean 'there’s no DeLorean with a flux capacitor'??? I was totally counting on that.

    I get your point. I'm a huge fan of making mistakes and moving on. Maybe a bigger fan than I should be . . .

  4. Kudos to you for including the clip! I'm not normally much of a baseball fan, but even I can see it was an "OOPS" call. Chalk it up to human error, easy for a non-sports fanatic to say right?

  5. Reminds me of the France v. Ireland soccer game when Henry put the ball in the goal with his hand. They kept the call that it was a score, even though Henry himself knew and stated he hit it with his hand. And that helped France get into the World Cup, which is starting on Friday! Woohoo!