MLB Commissioner Selig May Reverse Ump's Imperfect Call

Umpire Jim Joyce's blown call raises issue of instant replay in baseball.

June 2, 2010, 10:41 PM

June 3, 2010— -- Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga may get his perfect game yet.

Major League Baseball is considering whether to review umpire Jim Joyce's call in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's game when he erroneously called Cleveland Indian Jason Donald safe at first base.

Instant replay shows that Donald was clearly out, and a correct call would have ended the game and sealed Galaragga's perfect game, an achievement that would have put him in the history books as ony the 21st pitcher ever to throw a "perfecto."

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has the authority to overturn Joyce's call.

Joyce may be hoping Selig does what he failed to do Wednesday night, call Donald out. The veteran umpire admitted he was wrong after reviewing a tape of the play, and he went to the Tigers locker room in tears asking for a chance to apologize to the pitcher.

While still on the field, Galaragga had simply smiled ruefully after seeing his pitching gem vanish with Joyce's emphatic "safe" call. In the locker room, he accepted Joyce's apology and his hug.

"You don't see an umpire after the game come out and say, `Hey, let me tell you I'm sorry,"' Galarraga said. "He felt really bad. He didn't even shower."

The controversy is expected to shine a spotlight on the already debated use of instant replay in Major League Baseball.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland argued the call, but later told reporters that the "human element" is a part of professional baseball and said he will not take the matter in front of the league.

Leyland called what happened "a crying shame" and also praised Joyce as a good umpire.

But others, including former umpire Don Denkinger, believe Major League Baseball should expand its use of instant replay.

Denkinger, who became infamous for his missed call in the 1985 World Series, told the New York Post that "there are so many areas you can use instant replay."

Jim Joyce Admits Missing Call in Near Perfect Game for Armando Galarraga

Baseball currently uses instant replay only for questions of whether a ball was fair or foul, and whether a hit is a home run.

Galarraga had not allowed a single hitter to reach base through eight and two-thirds innings when the Indians' Donald hit a ground ball towards first.

Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera cleanly fielded the ball and tossed it to Galarraga, who was covering first, in time to get Donald out.

In a call that's sure to go down in infamy for Tigers fans for generations to come, Joyce spread his arms wide, pronouncing Donald safe.

The call was immediately disputed by Leyland and several other players and replays showed that Donald was clearly out. The nearly 18,000 fans at Detroit's Comerica Field, many clearly irate, launched into raucous booing.

For his part, Galarraga just smiled and started back for the mound. After the game, though, he expresssed his frustration.

"I feel sad," Galarraga said. "I just watched the replay 20 times and there's no way you can call him safe. ... [The umpire] needs to do a better job in that situation. It wasn't even close."

After the game, Joyce admitted he had made the wrong call.

"It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the (stuff) out of it," Joyce said after the game, according to the AP. "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," he said after the Tigers' 3-0 win.

Perfect Game...Almost

It would've been the just the 21st perfect game in major league history, and the first for a Detroit Tiger.

Joyce began his professional officiating career for the major leagues more than 20 years ago, the AP reported.

Though the feat is a rare occurrence in the history of baseball, Galarraga's would have been the third this season, following Oakland's Dallas Braden and the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay, who both threw perfect games last month.

Leyland told reporters after the game that Galarraga's teammates all believe they played in a perfect one extra out.

"The players are saying he got 28 straight outs," he said.

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