Cabrera raised his arms as soon as he threw the ball and the runner was out. But Jim Joyce called him safe. He blew the call. Right in front of him. Blew it. Trevor Crowe grounded out for the 28th and final out.
I felt sick to my stomach watching it on TV. It was like getting kicked in the gut or lower. The fans in Detroit booed. It seemed like half of the Tigers team had to be restrained from jumping Joyce whose professional life may never be the same after one blown call. From what little I know about umpires, they take their mistakes to heart, so I can only assume this is the worst night of Jim Joyce’s life (and I feel for him as I imagine nobody feels worse about this than he does).
After the game, Joyce told reporters, “I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”
Joyce’s mistake surely spoiled the best night of Galarraga’s life, but instead of letting this sickening feeling overshadow Galarraga’s brilliance, let’s just flip it—this was a wonderful feat. Joyce’s mistake only allowed Galarraga to accomplish something even more unique than a perfect game. A 28-out perfecto.
No matter what the record books say, this was perfection by Galarraga, plus one. An untimely mistake by Jim Joyce can’t spoil what we all saw and know to be true.
At the Hardball Times, Josh Fisher is part of the Million Fan March calling for expansion of instant replay in baseball.
Update: Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk looks at the pros and cons of Bud Selig overturning Joyce's call and retroactively making the perfect game official.