Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baseball Commissioner Won't Overturn Blown Call That Cost Perfect Game

There is no greater game than baseball. Of that, I am sure. Oh, I do like watching basketball and football as well as the occasional track and field meet, but baseball...I can sit in the stands and remember being out there on the field. The smell of the grass, the crack of the bat and the feel of my mitt are not a lost memory. At least, not yet.

Baseball has always been a game where decisions were made by humans. The pitcher and the catcher, working together decide on what pitch will be thrown. The batter decides whether he will swing at the pitch. The manager decides if he will give the signal for the runner to attempt to steal the next base. The umpire sits above all and decides the balls and strikes and calls the outs or, in this case, calls the runner safe. And of course, humans being involved, errors can and do happen. Infielders can miss a ground ball or throw the ball into the stands behind 1st base. Outfielders can drop the ball or throw it wide in attempting to stop the runner. The pitcher can throw the wrong pitch to the batter and watch it sail over the outfield wall. The beauty of the game is this: It is a human game where mistakes can be made.

I've already written about two perfect games this season: #19 and #20 in the history of baseball. But for the error of the 1st base umpire, this would be about a young Detroit pitcher throwing the 1st perfect game in the history of the Detroit Tigers and only the 21st in the history of professional baseball. What a remarkable season this has already been! But even more remarkable is the aftermath of the blown call. The whole world knew the umpire had blown the call and so did the umpire. Who knows what caused him to say "Safe!" when he should have signaled the final out of the game. At this point, who cares. The ump's call is sacrosanct as it should be. That's how the game is played both on the field and in life for the call is not always in your favor even when it should be. What is telling is how you deal with the call. The pitcher smiled and walked back to the mound. The game ended with the next batter striking out. After the game in an unusual move, the umpire, knowing that he'd blown the call, went to the pitcher and apologized. He didn't have to but he did. That's professionalism.

The pitcher, a young man named Armando Galarraga, displayed a level of sportsmanship that is what we expect from professionals but, unfortunately, don't often see in an era of great talents and greater egos. He knows that he threw a perfect game. And when you see the video, you know it, too. As a matter of fact, he struck out the next batter so in reality Armando Galarraga did something very unique: In retiring 28 batters he threw a perfect game plus 1. But when questioned he did not display an attitude of "I was robbed!" Instead he complimented the umpire for coming to him after the game, smiled and shrugged it off as just part of the game.

I predict a great career in baseball for young Armando. And he's already fulfilled the most important role that a professional ballplayer can ever have: He set an example of sportsmanship for youngsters–and not a few parents–across the nation to emulate. We need that in this day and age.

Follow the title link for the story on Armando Galarraga's "perfect" game.

Not to dim Galarraga's effort, I received the below link via email. Those of you who remember the poem "Casey at the Bat" should enjoy this comedy takeoff on the original. Follow the link and enjoy!
Obama At Bat 

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