Flash back to Detroit a couple of weeks ago, and a drama played out in the public eye in which everyone involved acted with a grace that we could all learn something from.
I’ve aways been a baseball lover, and baseball lovers know the only thing more unlikely than a perfect game is the unassisted triple play and hitting 4 home runs in 1 game. Well by now I’m sure that you are all familiar with the near perfect “perfect” game pitched by Armando Galarrga of the Detroit Tigers a couple of weeks ago. Galarrga had laid down 26 straight batters, and on the 27th (the fewest number of batters that can be faced in a 9 inning game) umpire Jim Joyce blew the call. Right on national TV, in front of the whole country he made what was an obvious mistake, the ball got to the first baseman’s glove ahead of the batter . Now lets put this in perceptive, what Galarrga would have accomplished has been done only 20 times since the turn of the last century (thats 1900, not 2000!). It’s an honor bestowed on very few people and would have put him in the record books and possibly a trip to Cooperstown, the Baseball hall of fame. But a simple human error wiped it out, and unfortunately it can’t be turned back.
My first reaction was frustration and anger. I listened to Marty Brenneman (the Reds play by play announcer) describe what a blatantly bad call it was and what it cost this poor kid, and I could not help but to co-miserate with him. It does not help that I’m not a big fan of Jim Joyce either, especially after I watched him call 2 balls that should have been strikes (in my opinion) and cost David Weathers & the Reds a game against the Brewers a few years back. I remember him defiantly looking down at Weathers as if to say “question me and your outa here!”.
So I was shocked when I heard that Joyce was in tears after the game saying “I just cost that kid a perfect game”. Joyce said he realized it after going to the umpires room and watching the replay. “I’m not sure what to say right now other than that probably was the most important call of my career, and I missed it”, going on to say “Nothing like this has ever happened to me, and I don’t know what to say”. Wow, it’s brings a new respect for somebody when they are human enough to fess up and say they made a mistake. Equally as powerful was Galarraga’s graceful reply regarding Joyce, that he’s human and everybody makes mistakes. According to Galarraga, I then gave Joyce a hug and said “I think he feels worse that I do”. The next day, Joyce and Galarraga met at Home plate as Tiger fans cheered. Joyce was visibly moved by the pitchers grace as well as the crowds.
So, what’s so powerful about this whole drama? You have something big, a perfect game could commercially make Galarraga a wealthy man with future contract negotiations, not to say the record books. And it will put Jim Joyce up there with Bill Buckner on the biggest “should have been the last out of the game” list. But it was incredible to see Galarraga shake it off, give Joyce a hug and move on. Could you imagine if our politicians, our leaders, our coworkers (even BP), along with you and I had that type of grace . Just be honest, admit mistakes and move on….There’s not enough of that in the world today.
Fast forward back to reality. We live in a world full of litigation, finger-pointing and and more complex issues than ever imagined back in the “good ole days”, but for just a moment, to watch this drama play out in front of all of us was remarkable thing.