You've got to give it to umpire Jim Joyce -- his last call in the Detroit Tigers' 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night was a gutsy one. Horribly wrong but gutsy.
Joyce was the umpire who called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe even though Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, covering first base for infielder Miguel Cabrera who deftly backhanded Donald's ground ball, caught Cabrera's throw to first and tagged the base while Donald was still one step away. (You make the call.)
It should have been the final out, giving Galarraga a perfect game, the first one in the Tigers' long history and the third perfect game in Major League Baseball in less than four weeks. There have only been 20 perfect games in MLB history.
Indeed, if Joyce had made the right call, it would have been the first time MLB had three perfect games in one season. But it didn't happen because the first base umpire needed glasses, so to speak.
To his credit, Joyce was full of regret after the game and even apologized abjectly to Galarraga for blowing the call so badly.
That was certainly the right thing to do. You have to love Galarraga's perfect response as reported by the Detroit Free Press:
"I told him, 'Nobody's perfect,' " Galarraga said. "What am I going to say?"
Galarraga said that -- "nobody's perfect" -- without any irony or sarcasm, although on this night against Cleveland he believed he was perfect.
Still, his apology won't do much to lessen the sting for many baseball fans. Joyce made sure that June 2, 2010 is a day that will live in infamy because his call on that day kept 2010 from being the year of the three perfect games.
Of course, the way the current baseball season is going, someone else could very well pitch a perfect game today, tomorrow or next week.
The blown call is renewing demands by some fans to expand the use of instant replay in baseball. It is used on a limited basis currently, for example, to check to see if a ball hit down the line and out the park is a home run or foul.
Maybe more instant replay in baseball would be the perfect end to an imperfect situation.