Baseball history's goat farm threw wide its paddock gate and welcomed a new member on Wednesday night. Merkle, Denkinger, Buckner, Bartman and all the rest, bleat hello to the mustachioed umpire,
Galarraga, making his third start of the season after an up-and-down first two years in Detroit (he entered with a 20-18 career record and a 4.62 career ERA), had been brilliant all night; he ended up throwing just 21 balls among his 88 pitches. Here he was -- improbably, ridiculously -- on the cusp of becoming the 21st player ever to throw a perfect game, and -- improbably, ridiculously -- of becoming the third to do it in the last 24 days (and the fourth in the last eleven months), with a serious assist from rookie center fielder
Cabrera, about as close to the play as was Joyce, pumped his fist in jubilation. Then he saw where Joyce's arms were positioned, grabbed his crotch, put his hands on his head, and spent the rest of the inning jawing at the umpire. (Galarraga retired
In fact, the Tiger who seemed take it all the best was, strangely enough, Galarraga. He clearly knew that he'd recorded that 27th out, but when he saw the call he simply smiled, and said nothing. He was smiling still after the game, in a TV interview, even if his eyes seemed a little moist. "I feel good," he said. "That was my best game so far." Of that play --
It was clearly too soon for Galarraga to be thinking about how his place in baseball's record book was unfairly snatched from him, and how the list of perfect game hurlers will unfairly remain at 20 -- at least until
If Galarraga will now always be remembered, then so, of course, will Joyce. It has been a difficult period in which to be a major league umpire, the public perception of the men who work in the profession shaded by the buffoonery of
Armando Galarraga? What he did on Wednesday night won't appear in the record books, but it always will in our memories. The same, somewhat sadly, goes for Jim Joyce.