February 10, 2011
There's no question that the tale of Armando Galarraga(notes), Jim Joyce and the near-perfect game ended up being a net win for Major League Baseball. Joyce's blown call and everything that happened after was a story of class, respect and forgiveness, and the lessons taught by both sides in 2010 will likely be cited for a long time coming.
But that doesn't mean that there isn't any controversy to still be wrung from the situation. Indeed, the newest issue at hand is the upcoming May release of a book — Nobody's Perfect — that was co-authored by both the pitcher and the umpire.
Though it may turn out to be a page turner, the main question surrounding the book is this: Can Joyce really be assigned to work Arizona Diamondbacks games (Galarraga's new team) now that the relationship has extended past that fateful instant on June 2, 2010 and now involves money?
FanHouse's Ed Price points out the obvious conflict ...:
This is no different than if an active player and active umpire decided to start a sports bar together, or opened a car dealership. They both profit from the same business.
... while Bob Harkins of Hardball Talk agrees:
There is no questioning the ethics of Joyce and Galarraga. Both men proved their character — and then some — last year. But Price is correct on this. It's about appearances, and you can't have an umpire calling games in which the pitcher on the mound is his business partner.
Were Joyce to work a D'Backs game this season, it wouldn't be the first time he was assigned a Galarraga game after the famous incident. He was behind the plate for Galarraga's start at Comerica Park on Sept. 10 and everyone said it was business as usual. (Galarraga gave up three runs in seven innings and had the same number of strikeouts — two — as walks.)
Still, the conclusion seems clear. Though Galarraga and Joyce won't be making millions in royalties off this book, the duo shouldn't be put in a position where Joyce's strong principles are given even the slightest chance to be questioned. The league already takes scheduling pains to make sure that umpire Jim Wolf doesn't work the same games as his brother (Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf(notes)) so it's not like they can't do the same thing here.
A MLB spokesman told Price that the league is looking into the arrangement between Joyce and Galarraga and the decision should be a simple one for the commissioner's office. Because they've been inextricably linked off the field, it's best that Joyce and Galarraga are never paired together while on it.