Jim Joyce: Perfectly human
June 3, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode
Jim Joyce is officially our favorite umpire.
That's right, the man who's being villified nationally and threatened with great bodily harm by the Iron Shiek on Twitter is our man.
We're loving Joyce right now because after his blown call spoiled Armando Gallaraga's perfect game Joyce did something MLB umpires don't do enough (if ever for some of them): admit they were wrong and apologize.
We've long been a proponent of replay in baseball (fair/foul; homer/no homer; out/safe; but never for balls/strikes) but replay isn't going to help much if MLB's umpiring fraternity (and they do act like a snotty Ivy League secret society) continues to foster nepotism (there are a handful of big league umps who don't belong in the show but are there because their father or grandfather was a good umpire) and close ranks and protect their own on repeated blown calls (um, CB Bucknor, anyone?). As an aside, have you ever seen a sentence with more parenthetical asides than that last sentence? But hey, it's a blog, roll with it.
MLB should follow the NFL's lead and appoint an umpiring czar who discusses issues openly and frankly, explaining calls and admitting errors when necessary. We don't support any kind of action by Bud Selig to "grant" Gallaraga the perfect game. Human error is part of baseball. That goes for players, managers and umpires. All of them should strive to eliminate human error, but it's always going to be there and trying to legislate it out of the game would eventually be disastrous.
As with every other sport, the proliferation of performance enhancing drugs and superior training methods in the past 30 years has created bigger, faster, stronger, quicker baseball players and made it increasingly difficult to officiate their contests. Replay will help, but a change in umpiring attitudes is just as important.
If it can affect change on both fronts, Joyce's blown call just might turn out to be one of the most important plays in MLB history.