The Last Great Call(s)

ESPN.com: "So how grateful are you that your team won the World Series and you didn't have to spend the next 100 years hearing about that throw?"

Saltalamacchia: [Laughing] "Oh, very grateful, now that you put it that way."

Middlebrooks: "I had a tough year last year, dealing with injuries and being up and down to the minor leagues. That was tough for me, to come in late in the game. And they rely on me to play good defense. ... I just got caught up in a crazy play that ultimately lost the game for us. And as much as I care for my teammates, that really got to me, because if I'm in there, I want to help us win the game. So it was tough. It would have been tough in any game. But you throw the World Series on [top of] it, that's tough. ... Like I've said a thousand times, I think they made the right call. Unfortunately, it was what it was, and we ended up losing that game. But thank God it didn't cost us the World Series."

Craig: "I was just happy that we won. That's why we play the game -- to get that end result. It was definitely a little bit of a funky fashion to end the game. But that's baseball. You never know what's going to happen. That's why this game is so great. I was standing on second, not anticipating being involved in that play like that. Then, sure enough, things happened."

Because those things happened, Craig became the first player to score the winning run of a World Series game on a game-ending error since Ray Knight, after the fabled Bill Buckner error in 1986. Craig also became the first man to rap an extra-base hit as a pinch hitter and then score the game-ending, game-winning run in the same inning of a World Series game since Kirk Gibson hit that legendary home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 in 1988. Add in the limp and no wonder Craig's teammate Matt Carpenter called his buddy's heroics that night "Gibson-esque."

Craig: "'Gibson-esque'? Oh man. I don't know if I want to go that far. Kirk Gibson hit a walk-off home run. I was just out there doing what I could to contribute."

It's five months later, and they're still talking about that call. Five months later, and "even today, it feels like it just happened," Joyce says. That's not unprecedented in the umpiring business, of course. But usually it's because of a missed call, not a call the men in blue totally nailed. Funny how no one has to explain that to either of these guys.

Joyce understands that his infamous Armando Galarraga call, on what should have been the 27th out of a perfect game, will hang over him forever. DeMuth is still tormented by missing the first significant call of the 2013 World Series, a fumbled Pete Kozma catch at second that was later reversed by his fellow umpires. But then came Game 3. And the Last Great Call(s), for both of them, has transformed the conversation to something just as memorable, and far more satisfying.

Joyce: "I do have a tendency, every once in a while out there, to second-guess myself. And I do put a lot of pressure on myself when I walk out on the field. I've had good things happen. I've had bad things happen -- obviously. But on that particular [obstruction] play, I can honestly say that I ... knew I was 100 percent right on that call."

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