Ozzie, Buehrle feel for Joyce, Galarraga
White Sox respect reactions in aftermath of blown call
CHICAGO -- The relationship between Ozzie Guillen and Jim Joyce goes back more than 20 years, when they were both working their way to the Majors in different disciplines of the game in Triple-A.
So, Guillen's reaction to the umpire's blown call at first base Wednesday night, costing Armando Galarraga the first perfect game in Detroit Tigers history, was perfectly understandable.
"This is what I said last night: Why him?" said Guillen prior to Thursday's series finale with the Rangers. "Why can't it be someone we can hate for the rest of his life? Why does it have to be my man?"
Guillen termed this missed piece of history, preventing the third perfect game from the 2010 season and just the 21st overall, as "a sad moment." It was sad for Galarraga, who pitched the masterpiece. It was sad for Joyce, a highly respected umpire who will have this moment attached to an otherwise stellar career.
It was sad for the city of Detroit and the entire country of Venezuela, where both Guillen and Galarraga are from.
"People were disappointed," said Guillen of the reaction in Venezuela. "I don't think they were mad, but there's nothing better in our country if it happened."
A funny thing eventually happened in the midst of this controversy. What could have been an explosive situation because of the ramifications emanating from Joyce's missed call turned into a moment of pride for Major League Baseball, according to the White Sox manager, as he observed how it was handled by all parties involved.
Earlier Thursday, Guillen Tweeted about Detroit manager Jim Leyland being a "class act" and "a great baseball man" after he sent Galarraga to home plate to present the lineup card to Joyce in Thursday's series finale between the Tigers and Indians at Comerica Park. Watching Joyce's teary-eyed reaction to the positive response he received from the Detroit faithful and the Tigers also brought tears to Guillen's eyes.
"There are only a few things that will put tears in my eyes, and I thought it was one of the best things I've ever seen," said Guillen. "The way Galarraga handled it, and the way Detroit fans handled it was outstanding.
"We need to get the ugly flavor out of what happened last night, where everyone knew he was out, and then the umpire come out and said what he said. That part caused one of the ugliest parts of the game to be one of the best ones. I think what they did there was very classy, and I don't know why bad things happen to good people.
"I love [Joyce] more now. I got more respect for that umpire now than I ever have. He faced it like a man. The Detroit Tigers were [classy]. They turned the page in less than 24 hours of what happened.
"Obviously, in last night's game, everyone was upset, everyone was sad. The guy who feels the worst, there's no doubt in my mind, is the umpire," Guillen said. "But [what happened today is] something you really like to see in baseball. Not just in baseball, but in every sport. This is a family game, we have to learn from that. People make mistakes, and you move on and continue to work, and when I saw that this morning, I had tears in my eyes."
Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game on July 23, 2009, against the Tampa Bay Rays, starting this uncanny one-year run of perfect games thrown. He has been followed this season alone by Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay before Galarraga was denied by the missed call.
When asked on Thursday how he would have reacted if the same mistake played out in the 27th out of his perfect game, Buehrle was unable to give a definitive answer. He relied on the "heat of the moment" explanation as to what might have transpired.
"In the heat of the moment, I don't know if I would have handled it as good as Galarraga did," said Buehrle with a smile. "At the same time, it's part of the game and you have to move on."
Buehrle doesn't remember anything good or bad about Joyce calling his games behind the plate, but described the veteran umpire as a "great guy" who will mingle and joke around with Buehrle on the field during the course of the game. As far as Joyce's sincere apology, Buehrle agreed there's not much more an umpire can do in that situation.
"A lot of guys don't admit it," Buehrle said. "They stick to their guns at the beginning. Everything you read and see on TV, how [Joyce] was emotional and he apologized to him in the office and he said that he made a mistake, I think that's big for any umpire to do. I feel for him."
Galarraga is scheduled to start during next week's three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field, and Guillen already predicted the right-hander will not no-hit the White Sox. But Guillen viewed Wednesday's events as an important learning experience for everyone in the game.
"Everyone learned something [about] how to get things done right away and move on," Guillen said. "Galarraga did a tremendous job, Jim Leyland was outstanding. Every player from the Detroit Tigers, I tip my hat to them."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.