Ump isn't the problem - MLB is

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:53 PM ET

There are two villains in this sad affair.

And Jim Joyce isnít one of them.

Joyce made a mistake. A huge one, but it was a mistake. There was no malice intended and later he stood up and admitted he was wrong. He showed courage and he showed class.

Joyce is not the problem at this point.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is the problem.

And, to a lesser extent, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is the problem.

Selig had the power to reverse Joyceís blown call at first base on Wednesday night, which prevented Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga from recording a perfect game.

Reversing the call would give Galarraga the historic achievement he deserves and, more importantly, save Joyce from a lifetime of hell. Because thatís what heís going to go through.

What a small, little man Selig is sometimes.

With a wave his hand he could have easily righted this wrong.

Who cares if it hasnít been done before and that it might set a precedent?

Baseball can deal with that going forward.

Obviously, the game needs instant replay, and at some point theyíll likely bring it in.

But this is a unique case where peopleís life are going to be impacted to a huge degree.

For the sake of humanity ó and I donít mean to be melodramatic, but remember, Joyce is already receiving death threats ó Selig could have overturned the call and saved everyone.

Forget rules and regulations, and board of governors meetings, and precedent and all that boardroom crap. Take a stand and do the right thing.

But Bud Selig is Bud Selig. And Major League baseball is Major League Baseball. Money is more important than people, particularly umpires. Why isnít there a real salary cap? So the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox ó huge TV draws both ó can make the post-season on a regular basis and bring in max TV dollars. Selig and the owners donít care about small market teams, or other teams in the AL East, like the Toronto Blue Jays, and they donít care about one little umpire.

As for Leyland, when he returned to the field after the game was over and gave Joyce hell all over again, well, that was very disappointing.

Leyland could have set an example to his players and the Tigers fans by shaking Joyceís hand right after the game, in front of everyone. Instead, he got back in Joyceís face and ranted.

Right after the blown call, Leyland had every right to charge on to the field and give the umpire a piece of his mind. Which he did.

But to repeat that after the game, with his players ganging up on Joyce and the Tigers faithful screaming for blood, was wrong.

Ironically, it was Galarraga who showed the most class.

Obviously, the Tigers had all seen the replay by gamesí end and they knew that Joyce had blown it. Thatís why they went after him again.

But imagine what Joyce is going to go through now? Itís a Steve Bartman scenario all over again.

For the rest of his life, Joyce is going to be reminded of that call every day. Heíll probably get booed everywhere he goes.

The last thing he needed was for the Tigers, and Leyland in particular, the so-called classy manager, to rub salt into his wounds. To kick him when he was already down. A little compassion would have gone a long way.

Sure, afterwards in the clubhouse, Leyland and some of the players said the right things to the media, suggesting that everyone makes mistakes and they forgave Joyce.

But it was too little, too late.

Itís like beating someone up, and then shrugging your shoulders afterwards and saying: Oops, I bad.Ē

The bottom line is this.

Itís sports. Thatís all it is. Sports are a distraction. Sports, and this is coming from a guy who writes sports for a living, has little to do with the real world.

Joyce made a mistake and he doesnít deserve to have his life ruined because of it.

He doesnít deserve death threats or Detroit fans vowing revenge.

Selig had the power to change all that, but he didnít.

Galarraga will be alright. In fact, he might be remembered more for this than he would if he actually recorded a perfect game. In future years, who do you think is going to be remembered most, Armando Galarraga or Dallas Braden? Sadly, Jim Joyce will also be remembered.


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