Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT June 9, 2010

| June 9, 2010 9:00 PM

May the best teams get the right calls

Like them or not, any referee's job is not an easy one.

Considering the past week in the sports world, with missed calls in the NBA finals and Major League Baseball, that target on their back isn't going away anytime soon.

LAST WEDNESDAY night, a missed call in the top of the ninth inning cost Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians.

Cleveland shortstop Jason Donald hit a routine grounder to Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera with two out in the ninth inning. As Galarraga went to cover first base, the throw was apparently too late, and the hitter was awarded first base. First base umpire Jim Joyce had the same angle he'd called a number of outs that night, but this time was different.

This time, he missed it.

It was the first and only runner to reach base that night for Cleveland, as Galarraga finished the game with a one-hit shutout.

After the game, Joyce returned to the umpire's room, looked over the video and noticed he missed the call, costing Galarraga the first perfect game in his career.

Later that night, Joyce admitted he was wrong, apologized and moved on to the next game, shaking Galarraga's hand before the start of the next game.

Kudos to Joyce.

You don't see an umpire admit to messing up the way he did.

FOR REFEREES in boxing, it can be just as hard to make a decision on the conclusion of a match.

During the bout between Anthony Greenidge and Shawn Hawk last week at the Coeur d'Alene Casino, an accidental headbutt ended up costing Greenidge, who was mounting a furious comeback in the seventh of the scheduled 10-round bout. Greenidge, who opened a cut by accident, had his corner fighting for him that Hawk was opened by a punch, not the other way around.

None of that mattered as they went to the scorecards after the round, with Hawk getting the win.

Could the match have continued? Most likely. Those fans booing probably felt the same.

BUT TO think just anyone could step into their shoes isn't totally accurate.

Officials are trained to make split-second decisions, whether good or bad.

Outside of a couple bad calls once in a while, they get them right 95 percent of the time.

But, the best games you see are the ones when you don't know the umpires/referees are there.

As the NBA finals and Stanley Cup finals continue to get closer, expect a lot more questionable calls.

However things conclude, all I hope is the best team wins.

And officials have nothing to do with the outcome.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d'Alene Press. He can be reached via phone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or e-mail at