Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce were forever linked after Joyce infamously blew the call that would've given Galarraga the 21st perfect game in major league history on June 2, 2010.
The two further formed a bond in the aftermath of the game, when Joyce expressed deep remorse for his mistake and Galarraga publicly accepted the umpire's apology. Galarraga and Joyce went on to give us one of the more memorable moments in baseball last season, when a tearful Joyce took his station at home plate and Galarraga brought out the lineup card for the game.
From there, the story continued. Approximately six weeks later, Galarraga and Joyce appeared together to present an award at the ESPYs in Los Angeles. No word on whether or not the two were seen picking out place settings at Bed, Bath and Beyond after that, but it almost wouldn't have been a surprise. For better or worse, the two were destined to be a part of the same sentence.
But everyone writes a book these days if they've done anything of note. (I added that qualifier, in case you were wondering why I, or the rest of the SB Nation Detroit staff, hadn't added anything to the shelves at your local bookstore.) It's our society's form of affirmation. So naturally, there would be a book about the "almost perfect" game, and Galarraga (who's since been traded by the Tigers to the Diamondbacks) and Joyce signed on to tell their story with author Daniel Paisner.
"Nobody's Perfect: Two Men, One Call, and a Game for Baseball History," will be released in May. (The original release date appears to have been June 2, which would've been a nice anniversary, but Amazon has the release set for May 16.)
However, establishing a business relationship between a player and an official of the game creates some murky waters. For Joyce, especially, it seems to be a conflict of interest. And because of that, Fanhouse's Ed Price thinks Joyce shouldn't work any Diamondbacks games this season.
Is there any way in which Joyce could make a call in one of Galarraga's games that would cause people to buy the book and help them both make money?
Not really, not without some strong use of the imagination.
Nonetheless, baseball must consider the appearance of impropriety. The first time Galarraga got a favorable call from Joyce, right or not, the other team could point to the book deal. Major League Baseball needs to make sure that doesn't become an issue.
This is no different than if an active player and active umpire decided to start a sports bar together, or opened a car dealership. They both profit from the same business.
Price goes on to cite a precedent. Umpire Jim Wolf is not allowed to work home plate when his brother, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf, is on the mound. But that's easy to work out because Wolf's spot in the rotation is regularly scheduled. The situation with Galarraga could be a bit trickier because he might not make the D-Backs' starting rotation this season. As a reliever, he could end up pitching any game, including one in which Joyce was the home plate umpire.
A MLB spokesperson told Price that the commissioner's office is looking into the business arrangement. and will decide if a potential conflict of interest exists.
I see where Price is coming from on this. If there's even the possibility of raising a question of favoritism, the situation should probably be avoided.
However, I also think it's a bit of a stretch to think Joyce might give Galarraga some calls because they wrote a book together and have some mutual business interests now. Who's to say, for one thing, that Joyce might not already be inclined to show Galarraga some sympathy because of what happened on June 2, 2010? After all, these guys are human.
But Joyce is a professional. This will be his 24th season as a major league umpire. An ESPN the Magazine poll of 100 major league players conducted last year named him the best in the game. And anyone who saw how hard he was on himself for not doing his job correctly and blowing that perfect game knows he takes his job extremely seriously. For all we know, he might not want to work a game Galarraga could be involved in, anyway.
And if Galarraga were to somehow expect favoritism from his co-author now that they have books to sell, then he's less of a professional than even the Tigers may have considered him. (Unfair? Hey, they traded a pitcher who arguably could've helped them this season. Draw your own conclusions about what that ultimately says about how Galarraga was perceived within the Tigers' organization.)
Surely, he understands that Joyce has a job to do. And he must understand that his job is to pitch competently enough for the umpire not to be a factor. (Galarraga sounded like he got that when Joyce umpired a game he pitched in last September.) If he's expecting otherwise, then maybe he really doesn't have what it takes to be a regular major league pitcher.
Until then, we'll almost certainly be hearing plenty more from Galarraga and Joyce. These guys have a book to sell, and the talk show and feature circuit loves someone trying to promote their latest work.
Above all, I just hope Galarraga and Joyce have something to share that we haven't heard already. This story has been covered pretty thoroughly, revisited frequently, over the past nine months. Revealing new information could be just as impressive as the two men's conduct in light of the event that linked them together forever.