All this week, the FanHouse staff will look back at the most significant baseball storylines of 2010.
Armando Galarraga was better than perfect.
With apologies to Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay and the 18 pitchers before them who had managed to pitch a perfect game in the major leagues, none of them emerged from his day in quite the same way as Galarraga did.
Galarraga had done the physical part. He'd retired all 27 batters the moment his foot hit first base, beating Cleveland's Jason Donald to the bag. All he needed was to wait for umpire Jim Joyce to give the out signal.
That's when this June 2 Tigers-Indians game crossed over from being merely a great performance to one of the most memorable incidents in recent big league history.
Joyce blew the call. Called Donald safe. Base hit. Perfect game gone. No-hitter gone.
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Galarraga smiled in disbelief. A 28-year-old Venezuelan who had a middling career, Galarraga said he did not know at the time that the call had been blown. After the game, once Galarraga and Joyce had both seen the replay and realized what happened, the two handled themselves ... well ... perfectly.
Joyce admitted that he'd blown the call. He made no excuses, said simply that "I kicked the (expletive) out of it." He added: "This isn't a call. This is a history call, and I kicked the (expletive) out of it. There is nobody that feels worse than I do... I took a perfect kid away from that kid over there."
Joyce apologized to Galarraga that night. Galarraga said he understood Joyce's remorse, and he gave him a hug.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, a hard old-school guy, lit into Joyce on the field immediately following the game, but after he cooled down, he also spoke in glowing terms about how Joyce, one of the best umpires in the game, made an innocent mistake.
Before Joyce took the field as the plate ump for the following day's matinee, Leyland encouraged Tigers fans to greet the umpire with understanding, not anger.
"This isn't a day to boo a bad call," Leyland said. "It's a day to cheer the integrity of the umpire and to feel bad for Armando Galarraga. I feel bad for Armando, but I feel more saddened for the umpire."
Detroit fans did cheer Joyce, who was red-faced and overcome with emotion when he walked onto the field. When Galarraga brought out the Tigers' lineup card and the two exchanged a handshake, it was one of the most touching moments of the season.
The result was a flood of kind words from around the majors about Joyce, who we now know is one of the best umpires in baseball. There was also a wave of sentiment to expand the use of instant replay. So far Bud Selig has merely said he's exploring the possibilities.
Hopefully we'll get expanded replay sooner rather than later, and moments like this one -- touching as it was to watch two men handle the mistake -- will be a thing of the past.