Jim Joyce will be living with this call forever

37 Comments

Jim Joyce.jpgJim Joyce screwed up, no question.  But because there is no replay in Major League Baseball outside of home run calls, he is unable to have the benefit of a second set of eyes or a second chance that just about all of us have in our jobs.  He’s in the worst place possible, really. Armando Galarraga got screwed out of his perfect game, but at least he has everyone’s sympathy. Joyce gets the scorn and there’s not a hell of a lot he can do about it.

In the coming days he will be an object of derision by fans and the media which will blow things totally out-of-proportion.  Within an hour of the blown call Joyce’s Wikipedia page was edited to include anti-Semitic comments and even a “date of death” of June 2, 2010.  Such things would be shocking if they weren’t so typical.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets more direct death threats than that one. Making me uneasy right now: Joyce is from Toledo and played ball at Bowling
Green State University. He still lives in Bowling Green, actually. Lots of Tigers fans up that
way.

The first person I thought of as this story was breaking a couple of hours ago was Don Denkinger.  He was the ump that called the Kansas City Royals’ Jorge Orta safe in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series when he clearly was out. The Royals were down 1-0 at the time and if that held up the Cardinals would have won the Series. They rallied, though, won the game 2-1 and went on to win Game 7.

A bit of a different situation here tonight as this game (a) was not as important as the World Series — in fact, it didn’t affect the outcome of the game one iota; and (b) it was the last out, so there wasn’t the same uncertainty that holds for how Game 6 would have unfolded.

But that’s not a big difference for Joyce. Like Denkinger, he’s going to have to live with this forever.  Indeed, as Joe Posnanski noted recently, Denkinger still, nearly 25 years later, gets boos and jeers over the call. Joyce will probably experience much the same.

Based on his comments after the game — and the fact that, according to
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick
, he went to the Tigers’ locker room and
apologized
to Armando Galarraga and Jim Leyland personally — he’s feeling it
already. He could have taken a defiant stance like we’ve seen so many
umpires take over the years. He could have said that the ball was
bobbled. He could have just bullheadedly insist that he saw what he saw
and that was that. But he didn’t. He has owned up to his mistake in the
only limited way he can.

But it really doesn’t matter, does it? Emotions will rule for the short term and the obvious narrative — Joyce screwed some young guy out of a perfect game — will set in for posterity.  I get that.

But I also feel pretty bad for Jim Joyce tonight. A man who made a mistake he can do nothing to fix and for which no apology will truly be accepted.

Athletics hire third base coach Matt Williams

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.

Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.

Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.

While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.

“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”