Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jim Joyce

James A. Joyce III (born October 3, 1955, in Toledo, Ohio) is an umpire in Major League Baseball who has worked in the American League (AL) from 1987 to 1999 and throughout both major leagues since 2000. He attended Bowling Green State University. He wears uniform number 66 (he wore uniform number 6 while in the American League). His strike call is extremely loud and enthusiastic, similar to that of now-retired umpire Bruce Froemming.

Joyce has umpired in the All-Star Game (1994 and 2001), the Division Series (1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2003), the League Championship Series (1997, 2004, 2006), and the World Series (1999 and 2001). After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1977, he umpired in the Midwest League (1978-1979), the Florida Instructional League (1978), the Texas League (1980), the Pacific Coast League (1981-1986, 1988), the International League (1987), and the Dominican League (1983).

Joyce was the second base umpire when Nolan Ryan recorded his 5,000th career strikeout and was the first base umpire when Robin Yount reached his 3,000th hit.

His crew for the 2008 season included crew chief Tim Tschida, Jeff Nelson, and Mark Carlson.

His crew for the 2009 season includes crew chief Derryl Cousins, Bill Miller, and Brian Runge.

His crew for the 2010 season includes crew chief Derryl Cousins, Marvin Hudson and Jim Wolf.Controversial call

On June 2, 2010, Joyce made a controversial call at first base, ruling baserunner Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians safe. Had the call gone the other way, pitcher Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers would have completed a perfect game, having retired the previous 26 Indians batters without allowing a single baserunner. Replays show that the call was incorrect, and that Donald had in fact been out at first.

Tigers' color commentators said that "The Tigers' fans have been cheated out of the greatest pitching experience in Tiger history." Joyce spoke with the media following the game and admitted he made a mistake: "I just cost the kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the replay. It was the biggest call of my career." Joyce apologized to Galarraga following the game after he saw the replay. A perfect game by Galarraga would have set a Major League record of three perfect games in twenty-three days.

Lord knows I had my share of disputes, and I'll be first in line to say there are umpires in the big leagues who have no business being there. I do believe they should be held to a standard, a major league standard in all aspects of everything they do.

Having said that, I watched in horror Wednesday night as Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game because of a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce. My heart broke for two reasons. First off, the kid did it. He threw a perfect game that was ruined by a bad call.

The second reason was Jim Joyce does not -- and will not -- deserve 99 percent of the stupid things people will say about him in the coming days. Jim Joyce is, and always has been, an exceptional umpire and a fantastic guy. I had my run-ins with him; not often, but we did.

"I don't blame them a bit or anything that was said," Joyce said. "I would've said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would've been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me."

Joyce is a rare bird for this reason. He'll be the first to admit, as he did Wednesday, when he makes a mistake. He's a damn good umpire, incredibly consistent, which wins him votes with hitters and pitchers, but most of all accountable. That's the one thing so many young umpires have failed, and continue to fail to realize. We gripe a lot, too much sometimes, as players. Hitters gripe about strikes, pitchers gripe about balls.

Too many umpires fail to realize the quickest way to shut a player up is to admit when you are wrong. What can I do when an umpire says "Yep, missed it"?

The answer? Nothing. The great ones, Steve Palermo, Ed Rapuano, Jim Joyce, to name a few, do that, and always have. Frank Pulli didn't admit it much, but often enough that you never got too mad.

Calling it the biggest call of his career, Joyce said, "I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."

Umpires have been in the news far too much lately. The incident with Bill Hohn, who tossed Roy Oswalt over the weekend, was a shining example of what's wrong with umpires. Too many are trying to be the game, instead of umpire the game. Angel Hernandez did it on Tuesday night in the ninth inning in Toronto. He did make the right call, but there is a right way and wrong way to handle it. Angel was always good to me, and I respected him, but I always thought his confrontational attitude got him more detractors than he deserved as well as pushed him into more arguments.

Joe West? Same thing. Despite what some say, the guy is a good umpire. Smaller strike zone than I would have liked, but Joe was always consistent -- strike one was strike three. His attitude and demeanor get him into more arguments than his calls, I think.

So yeah, Jim Joyce made a call Wednesday he'll never forget, for all the wrong reasons, he changed history I guess. But I would ask you, if you know baseball, to trust me when I tell you NO ONE feels worse than he does right now, not even Armando Galarraga, I give you my word on that.