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Updated: June 3, 2010, 1:54 AM ET

Missed perfection hurts pitcher and umpire

By Curt Schilling
ESPN
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Umpires … Yeah, they're human.

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.

Curt Schilling is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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Thursday's Best Matchups

Indians at Tigers, 1:05 p.m. ET

Everybody comes back to Comerica Park after Wednesday's near perfect game from Armando Galarraga. It will be interesting to see how both teams and the umpires respond after what happened a night earlier. Rick Porcello, who has struggled with his control a bit, gets the ball for the Tigers.


Braves at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

The two teams enter with identical records, both standing 31-22. Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda is coming off consecutive losses. Atlanta's Kris Medlen finally sees a team other than the Pirates; his last two outings came against Pittsburgh.


Twins at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET

Seattle's Felix Hernandez won his first two decisions of the year. He hasn't gotten a win since, going 0-4 in seven starts. He could use some help. Over his past two outings, the Mariners scored one run in each game.

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