Jim Joyce will be living with this call forever

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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.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.