Keller - To err is human, but to admit it is superhuman

June 03, 2010|By MARK KELLER

It's said that nobody's perfect.

Umpire Jim Joyce proved that Wednesday night.

Now, I'll change direction and not write the column that so many others are writing in the wake of Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga having a perfect game ripped from his clutches by Joyce's bad call on what should have been the final out of the game.

That's the column that ranks Joyce's blown call as the Queen Mother of all blown calls. Or the one that says Major League Baseball needs to expand its use of instant replay immediately. Or the one that says Galarraga's performance should be recognized as a perfect game anyway.

I don't disagree with any of those columns, by the way. They all make valid points.

But I think Joyce also should be given some credit, because what he did after the game was perfect. He looked at the replay -- which everyone watching on television had seen dozens of times by then -- and made a startling admission for a Major League umpire.


He said he missed the call.

Have you heard Joe West admit to being out of line for becoming the show when he ejected White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and pitcher Mark Buehrle from a game last week? Even after he was fined?

Have you heard Bill Hohn apologize for being trigger happy when he tossed Roy Oswalt from a game earlier this week? Even after he was addressed "in a very stern way" by a baseball official?

No, you haven't. And you probably won't. Because when it comes to arrogance, it's hard to top a Major League umpire.

Remember, some of these guys were part of a union that resigned en masse in 1999, then sued Major League Baseball when it accepted some of their resignations.

So, it's often difficult to have sympathy for the men in blue. Last night, Joyce made it difficult to not have sympathy for him.

After reviewing the play, Joyce went to the Tigers clubhouse - certainly not the friendliest place he could choose to be at that moment - sought out Galarraga and Tigers manager Jim Leyland and apologized.

(And as a quick aside, Galarraga deserves huge amounts of praise for the way he handled himself in this situation. He will probably never again dominate a team as he did the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. He had the rarest of individual achievements for pitchers taken away from him. And he smiled the whole time. Oh, and he hugged Joyce after they spoke following the game. Classy all around.)

Joyce also faced questions from the media and showed just as much remorse.

"There's nobody that feels worse than I do. I take pride in this job. ... I took a perfect game away from that kid over there, who worked his (butt) off all night," Joyce said.

Unfortunately, such remorse won't give Galarraga his perfect game. Only Commissioner Bud Selig can do that.

Unfortunately, Joyce will always be remembered for his blown call. Ask Don Denkinger, who made an equally horrific call at first base in the 1985 World Series that he still has not lived down.

Joyce made a mistake on the job. In the grand scheme of things, it's no different than when I misspell a name in the sports section, a waiter brings you Dr. Pepper instead of Pepsi or the postman delivers your mail to your next-door neighbor.

They're human errors. Nobody tries to make them, but everyone in the workforce does -- every day. Own up to them, apologize, fix them if possible and move on.

It's not a perfect way of doing things, but it's the best you can do.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7728 or by e-mail at

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