Joyce's call leads to instant call for replay
Controversial play in perfect bid brings outcry to widen use
Major League Baseball still does not have instant replay beyond boundary calls on home runs.But, thanks to unwitting provocation from respected veteran umpire Jim Joyce, it now has an instant call for wider use of replays. With his safe call of Cleveland's Jason Donald at first base on a play that admittedly deprived Detroit right-hander Armando Galarraga of the 21st perfect game in history, Joyce unleashed a new tidal wave of pleas for baseball to expand use of instant replay.
But it did not incite any voices of unanimity. Apparently, baseball people's appreciation of the game's tradition is yet another thing impossible to overestimate.Still, there was a significant shift among some on-field personnel on the prospects of greater replay usage. "Umpires go out there, they give you a great effort. Of course they're not always going to get everything right, but that's kind of the nature of the game," said New York Mets third baseman David Wright. "If they do the instant replay thing, great. If not, we'll keep playing it how it's been played for 100 years." "My whole philosophy is that the umpires should be able to get the call right. And if it takes instant replay, that doesn't bother me," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost. "I'd just as soon make sure that the play is called right. Umpiring is not an easy job -- it's tough. I try to do it every night and I'm wrong about 60 percent of the time on plays at first base. I think he's out and I go look at the replay and he's safe. If I think he's safe, I go look at the replay and he's out. It's tough and I think that sometimes that could be something that could help." Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron offered the interesting take that the Joyce call will remain a replay staple for months -- so why not use it when it could have done some good? "We're going to replay it forever for the next two months anyway, so you might as well do it in the two minutes it takes to get it right," Cameron said. "Obviously the guy knew he was out, too, so that's even worse. In a situation like that, we was talking about having a little red flag you could throw on the field. You get one instant replay call. The game has already been so far advanced. You might as well have instant replay. "I wouldn't mind it at all. We do everything else. We have every stat you can possibly have so you might as well have instant replay to get it all right." Although admitting not yet having seen the play in question -- he was busy at the time managing his Yankees against the Orioles -- Joe Girardi allowed the merits of greater use of replays. "I think it's something baseball should look at," Girardi said, "possibly because if they do change [the way replay is used], it doesn't affect the game, doesn't affect the outcome. I know it would be the first time it's ever happened, but you're talking about a very unusual circumstance here. I don't know what will happen." Despite the conspicuous nature of the play and the passions raised in its aftermath, the guardians of the game's tradition stood their ground against technology. St. Louis reliever Mitchell Boggs sounded a common theme when he said, "I think what makes baseball great is the human element. If you have instant replay it takes a lot of tradition out of the game. "Those guys," Boggs added, referring to umpires, "do an outstanding job for the most part, they don't miss a lot, so I don't think instant replay needs to go that far. It is a tough situation, this time a guy missed a perfect game, but, you know, that is part of it." Even Detroit manager Jim Leyland, who was not shy about protesting Joyce's call -- both when he made it and after the conclusion of Galarraga's one-hitter, conceded "the human element of the game." "It's going to remain that way forever. I think it should," Leyland said. "I'm sure somebody is going to say, if they had a replay on that play, the kid would have had a perfect game. Somebody will say something about that, but not me. That's just the human element. It's a good element. The umpires do a great job. There's no question about that. They are whole lot right more than they are wrong." Asked about greater use of replays, Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson, whose remarkable ninth-inning leadoff catch also was deprived of a place of honor in history, said, "I don't think so." "It's one of those things that happens," Jackson said. "It was a close play, but seeing the replay, I think he might've been out. It happens." Teammate Gerald Laird said, "I'm on both sides. This game is so pure and everything, and it's about human beings making calls, and it's been like that for years. "It's not on me to speculate," Laird went on. "I have reasons for both, and that's one of them that's going to be brought up. They have the home runs [reviewable] already. But honestly, I lean both ways. In situations like this, you see yourself leaning towards the other way. And then other situations, you don't want to hurt the integrity of the game. It's been this way for hundreds of years. "It's just tough to see, especially in this type of moment. It's not like it's a no-hitter or a one-hitter. You're talking a perfect game. You're talking history. You're talking about you're going to Cooperstown and being in there, the 21st perfect game in Major League history. It's just hard to watch. I see myself jumping into the dugout for joy after that catch. I don't know what to say right now. It's just tough. I feel so bad for Armando. I mean, it's something you probably dream about as a kid, to have a chance to do it. And to actually have it taken away, it's got to be pretty tough." "It's the human-element part of the game. Sometimes you're not going to get it right," said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, who felt Joyce had missed a similar, though less inflammatory, call only the previous inning. Johnny Damon was ruled safe on a bang-bang play at first with two outs in the bottom of the eighth -- a call that led to two Detroit runs that let some air out of a 1-0 drama. "Johnny Damon was also out," Acta said, "and it cost Fausto [Carmona] and the Indians two runs. That's part of the game. You can't take away the human element of the game. Unless you make baseball like football where you can throw a red flag on the field, we're going to have to live and die with that. I personally don't want to see a flag thrown on the field." "You've got to call it like you see it. I don't know if [replay] would work," said Mark Grudzielanek, Cleveland's veteran infielder, who in the next breath suggested one scenario in which it could at least help. "Maybe after seven innings, you get to request it? I don't know. It's a tough situation. It's the same thing for everybody, and it could [have happened to] anyone. Jim is a good dude and a good umpire. Unfortunately, he missed the call." "It's important that ultimately they get the call right. I think the umpires go out there and they do the best they can. They don't always get everything right, and we as players, we don't always get everything right," said the Mets' Wright. "It's just human nature. Anytime that you get a chance to maybe take a few extra minutes to get it right, I'm all for it. I'm not saying it because of this one incident." "I'm still not a replay guy," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon. "And I also believe Jimmy Joyce, who is the umpire in question, is one of the best in all of baseball. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. This guy is really good and I know how much he cares and how much that's going to bother him." "Unless we go ahead and change all the rules on that basis," said Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, "I think right now, with instant replay for the home run, we're pretty good."