Jim Joyce's blown call and more -- Barry Svrluga on the latest sports news

Jun 03, 2010

Post sports writer Barry Svrluga discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

Greetings, First Takers. Happy to talk what's on your mind, particularly if it's the current Nats or the Nats of '05. I was also at the Skins workout Wednesday, and some news -- Portis is the starter, and they're definitely interested in Brian Westbrook -- came out of there. Whatever you're up for, I'll give it a shot.

And, my goodness, we might as well add Armando Galarraga -- remember, he used to pitch in the Nats' farm system -- to the discussion topics. If America didn't know the name "Jim Joyce" before, it does now. Wow.

Was Armando Galarraga the victim of the biggest blown call in baseball history?

Let's get right to the heart of this thing. The answer is: No, but close. I think you have to argue that Don Denkinger's call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series -- in which he called Jorge Orta of the Kansas City Royals safe at first, even though he was out -- was more costly. The Royals went on to steal that game, then beat St. Louis in the seventh game. That's bigger, because it affected more people.

But this? This is a travesty.

I don't think baseball can set precedent and reverse a call after a game, even if everyone, including the other team and the umpire, would like it reversed. Otherwise, teams would start pointing at instant replays and clamoring for reversals (let's start with Lance Berkman's non-strikeout on Tuesday night). Instead, I think Galarraga should be recognized (unofficially) as having pitched the only 28-out perfect complete game in major league history (though Harvey Haddix's 1959 feat of 12 perfect innings was even more amazing and the outcome even less fortunate)!

There's just no way to make this better, after the fact. Even if -- and this won't happen, but let's just suppose -- MLB decided to reverse the call and give Galarraga the perfect game. He still loses the moment. And really, given that this was a regular ol' early June game, it's about the moment. You think Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay didn't enjoy that explosion with their teammates?

How many cigarettes do you think Jim Leyland smoked last night?

Look, I feel bad for Galarraga, but one of the all-time greats just announced his retirement. Can we please talk about Ken Griffey, Jr.!

Griffey's midseason retirement -- with his Mendoza-line average and no homers as a part-time (no-time?) player -- feels odd, just not right for a player of his stature. And I have to say that this is one of those departures from the game that makes me feel downright old. I'm basically Griffey's contemporary, and his 20-year career spanned all of my adult life. I'm trying to put that aside and just close my eyes and envision his swing -- man, what a swing -- but it's hard.

Armando Galarraga - Acquired by the Rangers along with OF's Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge in a trade with Washington for INF Alfonso Soriano on December 12, 2005...split the 2005 season between Potomac (A) and Harrisburg (AA)...combined to go 6-8 with a 3.80 ERA (66 ER/156.1 IP) in 27 games/starts...ranked among Washington's organizational leaders in strikeouts (3rd, 137) and ERA (8th)...was named as the 5th-best prospect in the Washington organization and the 7th-best in the Texas organization by Baseball America during the off-season...tabbed by the same publication as the 7th-best prospect in the Carolina League following the season.

Of course, any time a minor leaguer traded away becomes a success somewhere else, fans of the old club vent a bit. (I grew up re-living the Jeff Bagwell-for-Lary Anderson debacle.) But keep in mind that the Rangers traded away Galarraga for an outfielder named Michael Hernandez (who?), and that the Nats at least got a summer o' fun out of Soriano. Galarraga has even been down with Class AAA Toledo this year, so let's not go crazy about what could have been over one night.

Two shames of the blown call: that it's generating knee jerk support for instant replay and that it's overshadowing that one of the all time greats stepped away yesterday.

There's no question Ken Griffey Jr is a first ballot hall of famer, but can he cross the 90% threshold with the BBWAA voters? 95%?

I just am not in favor of instant replay for plays like the one last night. There is almost no greater problem in baseball than time of game, and putting instant replays in for calls on the basepaths would add, I'd guess, five minutes a night. That would be unacceptable.

As for Griffey, I doubt it on the 90 percent threshold. I find BBWAA voters strange. My thought would be that you look at a player's career, and decide whether you believe he is a Hall of Famer or not. Why would that change over time? Why would you hold back your vote just so a guy wasn't a "first-ballot" Hall of Famer? It's like the BBWAA members want to create different levels of Hall of Famers.

Plus, sports writers shouldn't be voting on this stuff. But that's another matter.

Barry, I'm sure there will be all sorts of Jim Joyce talk this morning, but I have a different question about the same game: what's up with the perfect games lately? Is it purely coincidence, or is there something else going on here? Extremely pitcher-friendly parks? Offensive ineptitude this year? It's a pretty bizarre streak regardless.

Completely, completely bizarre, and I have no eartly answer. If there have been 20 perfect games in history, doesn't that mean there's one every five years or so? Now, there have been three in three weeks? (OK, two, I guess, but come on.)

Here's the thing this teaches us: If you have tickets to a ballgame, go. Just go. You have no idea what you'll see that night. It's the best sport in that way.

He can overrule the call, fire the umpire, and stop the NBA-ization of baseball in one stroke. Think he will?

Really, really doubtful.

I'm normally one of those Post readers who get irritated whenever the topic of Orioles coverage comes up. But I looked at the stats and was stunned to see how horribly they've been doing this year. The impression I got from last year was that they were developing a lot of young, major-league ready talent and were ahead of the Nationals in the rebuilding process. What the heck happened, and could it happen to the Nats?

Boz wrote a column about the wretched O's this morning, and you're right, they're God-awful. It would have seemed to this outside observer that, with Adam Jones and Wieters and Brian Roberts (hurt) and Markakis, they had the makings of a very good lineup, and the pitching should have been better. But Matusz has been hit hard, Milwood hasn't won a game, and Andy MacPhail has to take some heat for some of the free agent signings. (Tejada? Really?)

Could it happen to the Nats? Sure. Their free agent signings (Dunn, Pudge) have generally worked out OK. But it feels like the Nationals have a more solid foundation underneath them than they have in Baltimore -- and one more great draft could even strengthen that.

Barry So what happens if next Tuesday night's game is rained out? Do ticket holders get a ticket for Wednesday night which would then be 'burg's first MLB start? Have I just started a run on a) the Post's weather website b) Ticketmaster ?

Can't imagine that would be the case. It would be treated like a normal rain-out, which means the ticket-holders for that night would get tickets for the rescheduled game. I suppose that rescheduled game could be the following day in a day-night doubleheader (given that the Pirates don't come through town again), but my guess is they'd find a mutually open date later in the season, at which 41,000 people would get so see, say, Craig Stammen.

Barry, A At what point do the Nats discuss with Nyger how he is hurting the team? His pickoffs and failed steal attempts with Dunn or Zimm at the plate, his bunting for hits with a <.200 average, his bad jumps on balls over his head. We did not witness any of this last season. Is this the real Nyger?

My thoughts on Morgan -- mostly from afar -- have been that he couldn't possibly be the savior he was painted to be when he arrived last year. He was traded for Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge, not Tim Lincecum and Albert Pujols. And he was essentially cast aside by the Pirates, for goodness sake.

I thought it was interesting Riggleman put him back in the leadoff spot last night. His OBP is .330. The Nats really have no real leadoff hitter, and I wonder if that will really end up hurting them over the long haul.

You know, the NBA Finals may get the pub on a certain four-lettered network and in the media, but I can't see how it will be more entertaining than the Stanley Cup has been. The Flyers and Blackhawks have put on a show thus far.

Agreed. Agreed, a thousand times over. I was of the mind that the Flyers would be overmatched, but I just don't think there's anything as unpredictable as the NHL playoffs. (Ask the Caps, right?) We've now had three one-goal games, including one in OT. And is there anything as tense as overtime playoff hockey?

"Travesty" does not mean "an awful, horrible thing." A "travesty" is a grotesque or absured imitation. Thus, a miscarriage of justice is a "travesty of justice" because it is a poor imitation of what is actually just. So, Joyce's call was a travesty of good umpiring, but not simply a travesty.

Thanks, Mom.

Hi Barry, love reading the questions/comments this morning. I usually follow the NATS on gamecast whenever they are out of town & I wasn't able to follow the game last night. What happened? I saw the yesterday's score. I hope that NATS can be back to .500 today. Thanks!

Uh, it'll be hard to get back to .500 today, given that they're two games under and play only once today.

Left a lot of guys on. Made three more errors, adding to their league-leading total (what the heck is that all about), struck out 13 times and Lannan couldn't get the big outs. A pretty disheartening loss.

Apparently ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes last night, and suspended for two games. He may be done as a JuCo player. The Nats are still drafting him, right?

Yes, you're right. The ejection in that level of JuCo ball normally means a one-game suspension, but because he was ejected earlier in the year, too, he gets another game added on. Can't imagine this would affect the Nats' plans.

On average, adding five minutes to an (on average -- maybe we exclude the Yankees and Red Sox from replay privileges) three-hour baseball game -- not even a 3% increase -- is unacceptable in the face of getting calls right? Can we hear a little more on this before we all decide to buy into it?

I think time of game is something MLB absolutely must get under control, or they risk losing a generation of fans, if they haven't already lost them. The umps, by and large, do a fantastic job, and the average of five minutes (a completely fabricated guess, by the way) would have to include some games in which three or four plays were reviewed. I just don't think that's acceptable.

Yanks-Red Sox games are almost unwatchable at this point. I grew up an AL fan, but man, do I prefer NL ball now.

So Galarraga, Sledge (Nats first homer) and Wilkerson led to Soriano who led to two compensation picks -- Jordan Zimmermann and Josh Smoker, correct? Six degrees of baseball transactions.

I thought Soriano led to Zimmermann and Michael Burgess, but Burgess might have been the Jose Guillen compensatory pick.

Love tracing things backward like that.

Wait, why are we talking about a writer and poet that has been deceased for almost 70 years?

Came back as an umpire? A modernist umpire, I guess?

Are there any other aging running backs with a history of concussions that we can sign if Westbrook doesn't accept the Redskins' offer?

Merrill Hodge?

Have to say I was really struck by Mike Shanahan's endorsement of Westbrook yesterday. Would be really interesting to see those four guys -- a great 2006 fantasy team -- in the same training camp.

This genie won't go back in the bottle....nor should it. If baseball were fair, that long drive to left-center earlier in the 9th would have gone off the wall, and this story would be completely different. Just a fraction of an inch, almost 400 feet from home plate, is the difference between ringing double, and keeping the perfecto. Did Jim Joyce think the ball was bobbled at first base? Don't know. At least he manned up and admitted his mistake. But the call still stands, as it should. I sure hope Galaragga can come out and pitch a shutout in his next start, though....What a sad story.

Austin Jackson's catch for the first out of the ninth was simply incredible. I was convinced, as I watched it, that it was an easy double. And yes, in retrospect, maybe it would have been nice if it would have dropped. But then, what would we have talked about this morning?

Thanks for dropping by, folks. Sorry I didn't get to all the questions. Steinberg takes care of you tomorrow.

In This Chat
Barry Svrluga
Sports reporter Barry Svrluga's assignments for The Washington Post include covering golf and the Redskins.
Recent Chats
  • Next: