June 3rd, 2010

Awkward moment ahead Wednesday

Once the Tigers and Indians get underway Thursday afternoon, Tigers catcher Gerald Laird will be squatting behind the plate to catch pitches from Rick Porcello. Jim Joyce will be calling balls and strikes.

And the words they exchanged Wednesday night over Joyce’s blown call will have to be history. That explains in part why it was awkward for Laird to discuss the call.

“I was really upset,” Laird said. “I mean, a lot of us were. You’re talking 20 in history? You’re talking history. It’s only happened 20 times and this game’s been played forever. I didn’t know what to say. I felt like I wanted to get sick, honestly. And I know Jim is a great umpire and he’s a great guy. I know no one feels as bad than he does right now when he looks at the replay. He has a lot of respect from all the players, and it was just tough to watch.”

He did not have a lot of respect in those moments Wednesday night, especially once the game finally ended. It was one of the few one-hit performance that ended with boos, as Tigers fans directed their frustration towards Joyce. He was busy, though, dealing with Tigers players Laird and Jeremy Bonderman, who were shouting at him while infield coach Rafael Belliard tried to keep them separated. Manager Jim Leyland eventually joined in.

“We probably were a little bit out of line, I’d say,” Laird said. “At the time, I’m sure he thought he made the right call. But when he goes back and looks at it, he’s going to see. It’s just more out of frustration and wanting it so bad for your teammate. That’s all it is when some of us get on him.

I’ve got all the respect in the world for Jim Joyce. He’s a great umpire. He’s always been. I’ve always had a good relationship with him. I think it’s just more the heat of the moment. That’s why we were getting on him. You just want it so bad, something of that caliber for your teammate. To be able to say you were a part of it as a teammate, to be part of a perfect game, is remarkable. And I think that’s all it was, when guys were getting on him. We were just frustrated. We know their job’s hard. But he’s our teammate and we back him and we feel bad for him.”

Laird does not expect the sore feelings to carry over.

“It won’t. It’s a new day,” Laird said. “If anyone is going to be all right, it’s going to be Jim. I’m sure he’s already looked at it and it’s on his mind. I’m just going to go back there and do the best I can for Ricky [Porcello]. I mean, I can’t go back there and be frustrated about yesterday’s game. It’s over with. Obviously we got a good boost from Galarraga tonight to get us going. We just gotta continue to roll. My job tomorrow is to go back there and catch and do the best I can. I’m definitely going to be talking to him. I talk to all the umpires. I’m sure he’s going to be the same way.”

Galarraga, Joyce hug it out

Not only was home-plate umpire Jim Joyce apologetic over his missed call that thwarted Armando Galarraga’s perfect game, he was up-front about it — not just to the media, to Gallarraga.

“He asked if he could see Armando,” said Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, “and I brought Armando in there and he
apologized profusely to him and he said he just felt terrible. They hugged each
other and Armando said ‘I understand.'”

The meeting took place in around the umpires’ room after Joyce had already talked with reporters. It was short and sweet.

“He understands,” Galarraga said. “I give him a lot of credit for coming in and saying ‘Hey, I need to talk to you to say I’m sorry.’ That doesn’t happen. You don’t seen an umpire after the game come out and say ‘Hey, let me tell you I’m sorry.’ He apologized to me and he felt really bad. He didn’t even shower. He was in the same clothes. He gave me a couple hugs.”

Asked what was said, Galarraga said it wasn’t much.

“He used his body language,” Galarraga said. “His body language said more than words. His eyes were watering. You don’t have to say much. His body language said a lot.”