The first anniversary of Galarraga's near-perfect game is being met with its usual retrospectives —Galarraga is talking, Joyce isn't, saying he'd like to move forward — but it's also being marked with a bit of news as ESPN.com's Amy K. Nelson confirms that MLB will not allow Joyce to umpire any future series involving one of Galarraga's teams.
The policy is a new one as Joyce actually called balls and strikes without incident during a Galarraga start for the Detroit Tigers last September. And it has nothing to do with Joyce's blown call, but with the book about the incident that they co-wrote earlier this year.
Though their tale is rife with themes of sportsmanship, respect and forgiveness, Major League Baseball prefers to steer clear of any charges of favoritism or "appearances of impropriety," citing the pair's business relationship. The policy has already been tested once this season with Joyce having to leave his normal crew when they rotated into a series involving Galarraga (who has since been demoted to the minor leagues) and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Umpire crews work together for the entire season, except when a member of the crew takes a vacation and a replacement ump is used. Joyce has already been replaced on a Diamondbacks series this season, during a May 6-8 series in San Diego in which Galarraga started the opening game. Larry Vanover replaced Joyce.
After the series ended on May 8, Joyce returned to his crew and opened a series in Atlanta on May 10, while Vanover switched back to his crew on May 9 and began a series in Anaheim between the Angels and White Sox.
Nelson notes that MLB has a similar policy in place for Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf(notes) and his brother Jim, a big league umpire who is not allowed to work behind the plate when Randy is pitching.
Whether or not this policy is ever needed again remains unclear as the 29-year-old Galarraga is trying to work his way back into the league after struggling with Arizona the first two months of this season. But given the integrity that both Joyce and Galarraga have shown over the past year — when they were arguably the year's biggest baseball story and conducted themselves with class— it's probably best that Joyce's unflappable reputation as the game's best umpire isn't put into a position where it can be questioned.
After all Joyce has been through, I'm sure he won't mind jumping through a few extra hoops to protect himself against any unfair charges.
What do you think? Should Jim Joyce be allowed to umpire one of Armando Galarraga's games?