It appears that public opinion is already beginning to turn for Major League Baseball Umpire Jim Joyce. He of course is the umpire that blew a call at first base with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday night--costing Tigers pitcher Armando Gallaraga a perfect game. Joyce worked home plate in yesterday's game at Comerica Park in Detroit--and was welcomed to field before the game with a standing ovation from most of the Tigers fans. Sure there were a few boos--but the vast majority of the crowd showed their support for a man that the night before was generally considered to be the stupidest person in the history of mankind (if you listen to talk radio or any of the 13 ESPN channels).
So why the sudden turnaround of public sentiment toward Jim Joyce? Simple--Jim Joyce acted like a man and took responsibility for his actions immediately. It started in the seconds after the initial call Wednesday night. Tigers Manager Jim Leyland came out to argue the call--and Joyce told him "I think I blew it--I'm sorry." And after the game was over Joyce went before the media and again admitted that he had made a big mistake in the biggest single call of his career.
Jim Joyce didn't blame any of the other umpires. He didn't ask why firstbaseman Miguel Cabrera went so far out of position to try and make the play--when staying home would have allowed the second baseman to make a more routine play that would have almost certainly resulted in an out as well. He didn't say Gallaraga should have caught the ball in the pocket of his glove instead of having it bounce off the heel into the webbing--making it look like he bobbled it in real speed.
He didn't issue his admission and apology through MLB's press secretary or post it on his website. He didn't wait to go on Oprah or Larry King or an exclusive interview with MSNBC. Joyce made a mistake and took ownership of it immediately and very publicly. And for that, he wins the respect of those who are fed up with all of the "I'm a victim too" attitude that has poisoned our current culture.
And "big ups" to Commissioner Bud Selig for not bowing to public outcry and issuing a reversal of Joyce's call and giving Gallaraga the perfect game in the ultimate act of revisionist history. I'm sure Whitey Herzog would have been at Selig's office door about five minutes after a reversal ruling asking for Bud to "turn back the clock" and reverse Don Denkinger's blown call at first base in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series that allowed the Kansas City Royals to comeback and beat the St Louis Cardinals for the title. And the Baltimore Orioles would probably like Richie Garcia's awarding of a home run to Derek Jeter after Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence to snatch the ball out of Tony Tarasco's glove in the 1996 Divisional Series. (Stop me when you get tired of "we wuz robbed" moments in baseball history).
Now let's all move on to those "suspicious" calls in the NBA Finals.