On Wednesday night in Detroit, in front of 17,738 screaming home field fans, pitcher Armando Galarraga had a golden moment rarely afforded to a major league pitcher–Galarraga was one out away from pitching a perfect game. But then, unlike so many other spoiled no-hitters or perfect games broken up by opposing hitters, this one was broken up by a horrible call by Jim Joyce, the first base umpire. Here is the video to see what you think (click here).
Odds of a Perfect Game
Imagine this if you will. Since 1876, there have been only 18 pitchers that have ever thrown a perfect game. That is 18 games out of the 392,000 games (and counting) that have ever been played since MLB’s inaugural year to witness a rarity–a pitcher pitches a perfect game (this is where a pitcher does not allow the opponent any hits or walks and his team commits zero errors; so he faces only a minimum of 27 batters).
1) 0.0000459 is the fraction of a chance you would have of attending such a game. 17,738 were in that percent cheering Galarraga.
2) That’s 18 out of the 17,362 players that have ever stepped onto a MLB field. Galarraga should have been 19.
3) Out of 134 years of baseball, a perfect game is thrown every 7.4 years, on average. Galarraga may never get another chance.
4) In the last 24 days Galarraga would have been the third pitcher to throw a perfect game (Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay are the other two).
Quotes on the Game:
Rick Knapp (Tigers pitching coach): “Everybody was in a state of shock and awe. We couldn’t even believe what we just saw, that he missed it. I don’t know Jim Joyce from Adam, but I know him now.”
Jim Joyce (1st base umpire who blew the call): “I had a great angle on it. I had great positioning on it. I just missed the da** call. I thought he beat the play.”
Armando Galarraga: “I got a perfect game. Maybe it’s not in the book, but I’m going to show my son the CD.”
And Armando Galarraga, your son will be proud of you. He would be equally proud of the way you have handled your stolen moment in history. In a day where coaches and players trash umpires over lesser things, you Mr. Galarraga have handled this gaffe marvelously.
The Game & Armando Galarraga Bio:
Armando Galarraga, a native of Cumana Sucre, Venezuela was making only his third big league start of the season. Last year Galarraga was sent down to the minors after arm problems plagued him. Galarraga, a career 20-18 pitcher, was on his game for this one though. Minus the extra 5 pitches he had to pitch for the unnecessary 28th out of the game, Galarraga only had to throw 83 pitches of which only 23 were balls.
Knapp said, “This is the Armando Galarraga we all signed up for. He attacked the strike zone, pitched back and forth and in and out, used his sinker and wasn’t afraid to throw the ball over the plate and make them beat the ball into the ground. He put on a pitching clinic.”
Chance the Perfect Game could be Restored
Believe it or not, the near-perfect game that Armando Galarraga threw is still up in the air as far as the official scorer is concerned. How is this possible when rules forbid a play such as this to be overturned by video replay? It is technically possible that the scoring decision on the play could be changed from a hit to an error. Why would the official scorer, in this case Chuck Klonke who has been working the Tigers games since 1982, overturn the hit? Well, one replay angle shows that Galarraga may have juggled the ball after receiving the throw from the first baseman.
Also, there could be special action of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig that could benefit Armando Galarraga in the end as well. Only time will tell for Galarraga.
Jim Joyce Bio:
Jim Joyce, the 55-year old umpire that will go down in MLB annuals for being human, has been a part of some historic MLB moments in the past. Joyce worked second base during Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout game and Joyce umpired first base the night of Robin Yount’s 3,000th hit. To the credit of Joyce he has been in the “Bigs” since 1987. Jim Joyce has worked All-Star games (1994, 2001), World Series (1999, 2001) and several Division Series’ and LCS.
But unfortunately, out of the thousands of right calls Jim Joyce has made throughout his career, only one call will be forever etched in the minds of players and fans. It is a cruel world Jim Joyce.
At a post game press conference, a dejected Joyce manned up and admitted his mistake. Even the manager of the Tigers, Jim Leyland and Galarraga himself, expressed empathy for the scrutiny that Joyce will now face. Leyland said no one is going to wake up Thursday morning feeling worse than Jim Joyce.