Thursday, June 3, 2010

Perfect Game...

In case you somehow haven't heard by now, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from only the 21st perfect game baseball has ever seen last night. He covered first on a routine grounder by Cleveland's Jason Donald. Miguel Cabrera made the throw, the ball landed safely in the hero's glove, and-- about ten minutes later-- Donald's foot touched the bag.

The stadium exploded. The celebration began-- in the crowd, thousands of fans were going crazy; in the dugout, every man was ready to rush the field.

But umpire Jim Joyce, in his own words, "kicked the shit out of" the biggest call of his career. His arms flew open. And he called the man safe.

Not since 1966, when the world heard The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" for the first time, have so many people repeated in unison the phrase, "what the hell was THAT?!?!?!"

The crowd was livid. Every word your mother would never want you to say was showered down onto the field. Cabrera stood with is hands on his head, in stunned disbelief, for what seemed like forever. Even Donald struck a similar pose for a moment. Galarraga could only stare with a smile on his face, as if to say, "y'gotta be kidding me."

There's no way around it. The pitcher was robbed.

Now, for those of you who aren't getting this, a perfect game isn't even a thing people dream of. Statistically, it's almost an impossibility. And to be THAT close to it...??? To be perfect, and be so blindsided by someone else's imperfection... It's well beyond what i can imagine, well beyond what my heart could take.

I would be seething. Jumping up and down, mad as hell... But-- and this is what i've been thinking about all day... Galarraga wasn't.

Listen, i get frustrated to the point of wanting to throw things at my Playstation3 when i lose at Madden football! But, to work that hard your entire life, and to be that close to something only 20 men have done in the 120-something years baseball has been played? To be that close to something no one has ever really had the audacity to fantasize about... and to lose it with such grace is something that i will never forget.

Joyce knew he blew the call. He met with and apologized to Galarraga after the game. And, y'know, I can't imagine being in his shoes, either. And i think he deserves a world of credit for humbling himself and admitting his mistake.

But i can't get my mind around Galarraga. The injustice of the moment produced such an instant and vicious anger in everyone around him, it seems almost unnatural to me that he didn't get swept up in it. He was just so calm.

Honestly, he could have gotten away with anything but murder last night. Ever wanted to trash a locker room? Ever think about screaming obscenities in front of nuns and children? Ever want to grab a microphone out of a reporter's hands, look directly into a camera and rant and rage for hours against anyone who had ever done you harm? Everything would have been forgiven. "Let him go, boys... he just got robbed of a perfect game..."

But, disappointed and frustrated as he was, Armando Galarraga chose to simply shrug his shoulders quietly, and say, "eh... what can y'do?"

That he chose to accept Joyce's apology with class and grace moved millions. The crowd, so beside themselves with fury just hours before, was cheering this afternoon as Galarraga and Joyce met at the plate. The two men shook hands, and Joyce wiped away tears.

Forgiveness is a powerful thing.

Galarraga talked last night about his son-- how he would have liked to have been able to tell him someday that he pitched a perfect game. He said that he would still show him a tape of the game, to let his boy see what his dad did on the mound. To let his boy see his dad at his best.

If i ever have a son, i'm going to show him a tape of Armando Galarraga after the game.

the five things i fell in love with today...

1) grace.
2) Jim Joyce deciding to go back to work today, even though MLB gave him permission to take a day off. Big respect to him for that.
3) the hope that Bud Selig might reverse the call and put the perfect game into the record books. honestly, i have some reservations about this, but it does seem like the right thing to do...
4) that i have friends who love me even when i act like a moron.
5) Jesus.

song of the night...
"real good thing" by Newsboys --speaking of grace and forgiveness, these lyrics come to mind, "when we get what we don't deserve, it's a real good thing."

movie of the night...
"Field of Dreams" There's a Kevin Costner flick about a perfect game for the Tigers... but i still haven't seen it... :(

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