Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Jim Joyce = The Best of the (Not Quite) Best!

He was so obviously out that it makes my heart hurt to watch this

This morning it was revealed that, in a poll Sports Illustrated took during Spring Training this year, MLB players voted Jim Joyce the best umpire in the majors with 35% of the vote. Everyone talking about it is mentioning that this shows what a good guy he is and how much respect players have for him given that he is the man who single-handedly robbed Armando Galarraga of a perfect game last season. (It’s worth noting that In 2010, after the blown call, Joyce won the same title in a similar poll.) He must be good at his job if he did something so terrible and the players still like and/or respect him, right?

The way I see it, this speaks more to just how terrible even the players think the umpiring is in MLB than it does how much people like Joyce.  I mean if the guy who made the wrong call that caused a pitcher to lose his perfect game is the favorite umpire of the players, what’s that say for the rest of the umpires in Major League Baseball? (I’ll tell you what it says…it says they stink like cheese.)

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August 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 2 Comments

Armando Galarraga is a better person than I

Screen grab of Galarraga's reaction to the botched call

Screen grab of Galarraga's reaction to the botched call

I can’t remember the last time something in baseball made me as mad and sad as Jim Joyce’s botched call last night.  After messing with baseball history and Armando Galarraga’s place in it, Joyce has defenders all across baseball because he’s a good guy and, after seeing the replay, admitted he was wrong.

Here’s the thing.  Being a good guy is wonderful.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be reprimanded or you shouldn’t have it painfully pointed out when you screw up as tremendously as Joyce did last night.  And while I realize that most umpires seem loath to ever admit they’re wrong, I don’t give someone all that much credit for doing just that when faced with video evidence that makes it clear, with absolutely no uncertainty, that he was wrong.  Terribly, ridiculously wrong.  Joyce gets credit for facing the music so quickly after the game (something a lot of umps NEVER do) but the fact is he still ruined it.  He destroyed what should have been an amazing moment in baseball history.  And why?  Because he couldn’t handle the pressure?  Watch the replay and it really looks like he’s about to call him out but gives the safe sign instead.  Did he just have a brain freeze?  He claims he really believed Jason Donald was safe.  His body language, to me, indicates otherwise.  Regardless, I’m not in the camp of “It’s all good because Joyce feels terrible and he’s a good guy”.  I’m not.  It’s not all good and I think MLB should review it, change the call and give Joyce some kind of reprimand.  Of course none of this will happen because MLB never does anything publicly to acknowledge when umpires mess up so the best I can hope for is this God-awful season of umpiring is held up to the Umpires union as a reason for changing the way the umpires are handled.  I am done, done with the “human” element in umpiring.  Don’t tell me it messes with the tradition of the game.  Screwing up calls this severely is what messes with the game.   In this era of technology, there is no reason for something like last night to ever happen.

I should point out that the man wronged, the man who had history snatched away from him in a moment, the man who’s greatest achievement in his career went up in smoke because of the “human element” is truly the amazing person in this situation.  Give Joyce credit for admitting he blew it (which, as I wrote, I really don’t all that much) but the remarkable person here is Armando Galarraga.  Not because he is only the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game in MLB history, but because of the way he handled the entire situation.  It was his glove that caught what should have been the final out.  His foot on first base.  He’s the one who made the out.  He knew he made the out.  He knew the game was over and he was perfect.  But when Joyce called Donald safe, he smiled at Joyce with the knowledge he was wrong.  He shook his head.  Then he walked back to the pitcher’s mound and finished the game.  After the game he did something even more amazing than that…he told the media that nobody is perfect and that he and Joyce hugged it out after Joyce apologized to him.  I think it goes without saying that Galarraga is a bigger person than most of us.

I don’t want Jim Joyce set on fire.  I don’t even want  him mercilessly hassled by the fans (although you know that’s coming if he is, as scheduled, behind the plate tonight).   I want Jim Joyce to be responsible for his actions and “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough. (Also, Jim, I’m pretty damn sure, regardless of how cool he’s being, Armando feels worse than you, sir.)  Keith Olbermann wrote a wonderful blog entry about exactly what Joyce could do to make this better.

Joyce’s recognition of his miss – and the degree to which he missed it (“from here to the wall”) is another reason for the Commissioner to intervene. Who would be hurt by him doing so? The Indians? The Tigers? The integrity of the game? The Umpires, or this Umpire? Listen to this and tell me “this umpire”.

And if you say no safe or out call has ever been appealed, or overturned, that’s patently false. There were rules interpretations involved that do not apply here, but in both the 1908 Merkle Game and the 1983 Pine Tar Game, game-ending “out” calls by prominent, gifted umpires were reviewed in agonizing detail by League Presidents. And in the case of the Pine Tar Game, the “out” call that ended the game was reversed and the game replayed from the point of the umpire’s mistake.

MLB, hell let’s call it like it is, BUD SELIG, needs to step up here.  And if Jim Joyce feels so damn terrible about what he did, he should stand up to and, as Olbermann suggests, contact the league himself.  Your apology rings hollow if all you’re going with is, “I messed it up and I feel terrible”.  Do something more, Jim Joyce, and at least TRY to make things right.

Last night Galarraga proved that not only could he pitch the hell out of a game but that he has class and grace beyond the expectations of just about everyone.  MLB needs to reward this by doing the right thing and reversing the damn call.

June 3, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 1 Comment

No more walk off walks, please

TJ Large doing his thing in Portland.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

TJ Large doing his thing in Portland earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

I was supposed to be in Pawtucket yesterday watching TJ Large make his first major league start in a spot start appearance because Randor Bierd was scratched late in the day.  The PawSox ended up winning their game 6-4 against Syracuse.  I missed a good game.

Of course, the game I didn’t miss?  Didn’t turn out so well.

I missed the end of that game too.  Sleep overtook me much more quickly than the Tigers beat the Red Sox but I saw enough of the game that I could have guessed, with the way things have gone this year, how it would end.

If there is one thing in baseball I absolutely hate it’s when my team walks in a run.  When they walk in a run to lose a game it a thousand times more frustrating.  So the gods were with me last night when they made me fall asleep because, had I witnessed Ramon Ramirez walk in that winning run, I probably never would have fallen asleep last night.

I’m writing this without having read anyone’s blogs or tweets or message board rants.  I’m sitting on a screened in porch with the sun shining, the birds singing and the sounds a few people mowing their lawns as my soundtrack for the morning.  In spite of the infuriating way the game ended, it’s a beautiful morning – and we have another day before us with the promise of a good baseball game ahead.

I fully acknowledge that it’s much easier to feel this way when I didn’t witness the crushing blow of how the game ended.

John Lackey goes out for the Sox at 1:05pm today against Armando Galarraga who was just called up from the Triple-A Toldeo Mud Hens to make the spot start for the Tigers.  On paper this should be great but last night is a reminder that baseball doesn’t care about what’s on paper just about what’s on the field.    Here’s hoping the Red Sox make the decision to switch the channel over to the Celtics at 3:30pm a tough one.

This is hard for some people to accept, I know, but we need to focus on whether the team wins or loses and not look at the rest of the standings – for probably quite a while.  Losing last night stunk but the Sox have a good opportunity to pull it together today and win the series.  Small steps, people, small steps.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , | 3 Comments