Quote of the Day:
“Baseball fits America well because it expresses our longing for the rule of law while licensing our resentment of law givers.” –A. Bartlett Giametti
Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched one of the twenty-one greatest games in the history of Major League Baseball this week. He threw a perfect game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a Perfect Game. First base umpire Jim Joyce blew a call on the twenty-seventh and final out allowing a Cleveland Indian to reach base and ruin Galarraga’s perfect game at his moment of triumph. It’s sickening. It’s terrible. It’s unforgettable. And it’s tragically beautiful. The response to this ultimate sporting sin by both Galarraga and Joyce make it so.
Jim Joyce choked, there’s no getting around that. It happens, even to umpires. What makes Joyce’s sin forgivable is that he asked for it. “It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the shit out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game.” Joyce didn’t say this after watching two days of Sports Center and reading every sports columnist in America take their shot at him. He said it right after the game while he was still in the locker room. He didn’t read a prepared statement. He said it while pacing in frustration, still at the stadium, visibly distraught. He sought out Galarraga before either of them left their job and hugged him and apologized. None of that erases the enormity of his error. What it does is show how much he wants to get the calls right, and that he owns his mistakes. What happened to Joyce and Galarraga is part of the game. That it occurred in such an important instant really doesn’t make the magnitude of the error any different than the kind that happen daily in baseball, it only heightens the awareness of it and the impact.
For his part, Galarraga was magnanimous. “You don’t see an umpire after the game come out and say “Hey, let me tell you I’m sorry.” He felt really bad. He didn’t even shower.” The next day Galarraga was smiling. He went out to present the lineup card to Joyce and the two exchanged pleasantries. He was asked again about the call. “I thought he made a mistake and nobody’s perfect.”
Heartfelt apologies go a long way with TB. I can put up with just about anything from a restaurant or a business if they acknowledge they have inconvenienced me or wronged me. I can abide most any disagreement with a friend if they extend an olive branch, and I expect the same in return. Same goes for my professional relationships. I don’t think I’m unique in that regard at all, among people.
In baseball, a public show of remorse and an apology are all Jim Joyce can do, and that’s a lot. Some are pushing MLB to retroactively credit the perfect game, but I hope they don’t, and even if they do it will forever be tainted. There is no atoning, though I expect the young pitcher will begin to see the outside corner extended an inch or so as he travels around the league. I wish Armando Galarraga had thrown a perfect game. Failing that, what he did do was, as I said above, tragically beautiful, same goes for Joyce, and I’ll never forget it. There are a lot of politicians, corporations, and others in the public eye lately that I wish would learn from the immortal imperfection of June 2, 2010.