LOS ANGELES – On the Braves' charter flight to Los Angeles on Wednesday night, all eyes were on the TV sets showing the perfect game that wasn't, and reactions were similar to those in living rooms and sports bars across the country.
The difference was that Braves players know umpire Jim Joyce, whom they said was one of the finest in the business. So they felt bad not just for Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga, but for Joyce, whose botched call spoiled the pitcher's perfect game.
Commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday that expanded use of replay will be studied.
"I was sick [for Galarraga]," Braves veteran Eric Hinske said. "Then you feel bad for the umpire. He thought he got the call right. He's crying [Thursday] at home plate. It's not something that you want to affect the rest of your life, but I'm sure he's going to be remembered like that for a long time."
Joyce called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe on a grounder, then admitted after the game that he missed the call.
"It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [expletive] out of it," Joyce said. "I just cost that kid a perfect game."
An unnamed baseball official told the Associated Press on Thursday that the call would not be reversed.
"Initially I couldn't really tell if he was safe or out," Braves reliever Peter Moylan said. "But then as soon as they showed the replay you could see it. You kind of felt sick. Jim Joyce is one of the umpires you can actually talk to, and he's a great guy. I felt bad for him and for Galarraga."
Braves catcher David Ross said, "First, you wish it wouldn't have happened. Then you wish the umpire it happened to wouldn't have been such a nice guy and a good umpire. The thing I liked about it was that everybody handled it with class."
Galarraga clearly was surprised by the call, but only smiled as he held his hands atop his head momentarily. He continued pitching and got the final out on the next batter, then said Joyce was only human.
"I think that he probably handled it a little more gentlemanly than I might have," said Braves broadcaster Don Sutton, a former pitcher who's in the Baseball Hall of Fame. "I had heard about it, then I saw it replayed, and I was stunned by how he could miss it."
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Thursday that the team wouldn't ask Selig to overturn the call and award a perfect game to Galarraga. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told reporters Thursday that Selig should do so "in the best interest of the game."
Joyce went to the Tigers' clubhouse after Wednesday's game and hugged Galarraga. On Thursday, Galarraga took the lineup card to Joyce at home plate before the game (Joyce was the home-plate umpire Thursday), and the tearful umpire patted the pitcher on the shoulder.
"I thought it was a magnanimous gesture on [Joyce's] part afterwards to go into the locker room," Sutton said, "but the cold, hard fact is that it took a historical moment away from the kid that he can never recapture. I'm also one that, I like the human element in it. But …"
The play left several Braves believing that use of replay would be expanded beyond its current use, which is only for home-run calls.
"That's what I said on the plane -- this is going to cause instant replay," Hinske said. "For fair/foul and close plays on the bases. That's what I think. I think it's inevitable anyway."
Manager Bobby Cox said he doesn't want replay use expanded. "The human element's still the game," he said. "Been that way for 160-some years. Might as well keep it that way. They make the call and you live by it."
Ross said, "I truly believe in the whole human element of the game, but when it's something like that, when the game or record book are on the line, you wish there was something to use to reverse the call."
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.