Lessons from baseball

Ok, this is going to seem odd coming from me. Just stick with me, here. Did you see the Detroit pitcher who pitched a perfect game, only not really? I try not to watch sports much, but with Captain America around it's often on. The other night I had to stop watching Parenthood on the DVR so we could watch Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galaragga who was almost at a perfect game.

Perhaps if you don't care for sports and you're not married to someone like Captain America, you don't know what that means. A perfect game is when one pitcher makes it through a whole game without anyone getting on base. It's apparently incredibly rare (nevermind the fact that there have been two, almost three already this year - sometimes Major League Baseball goes years without one).

Anyway. Right as we turned to the game, they were showing replays. Long story short (you're welcome), an umpire blew a call so Galarraga didn't get his perfect game. The ump made the call he thought was right, but on the replays we can see that he made a mistake. If the ump had made the right call, he would have been in the history books, because it was the last out of the game. Now this is where it gets interesting to me.

Right when it happened, what do you think Galarraga did? Do you think he stormed the umpire? Called him an idiot (we all know it'd likely be much worse than that)? Nope. He looked at the ump. He smiled. He went back to the pitcher's mound. Pitched to one more batter, and ended the game. A few Detroit players got upset at the ump after the game, but nothing really happened. Until later.

In the interviews I saw, both Galarraga and the Detroit manager basically said, "We're all human. It's part of baseball. Everyone makes mistakes." The manager went on to say what a great ump the guy is, and that he regretted letting his emotions get the better of him on the field. Talk about grace. It gets better though. The umpire, Jim Joyce, goes back to his locker room. He asks to see the replay. He heads straight for the Tigers' locker room and apologizes to Galarraga for blowing that call. HELLO? World, are you watching? America? Is this thing on? This is how pretty much everything should be done. (Donald Miller has more to say about that here.) The next day Jim Joyce was the ump for another Tigers' game, and Galarraga brought him the lineup card in an extra show of "no hard feelings." Joyce was moved to tears.

I was mentioning to Captain America how badly I felt for the guy, that he didn't get his perfect game. He brought up a good point. Perfect games are rare, yet there have already been two this season. Did I know who threw the other two? Nope. But now I knew who both Galarraga and Joyce were. And people who don't even like baseball are talking about it. More people are talking about the perfect game that isn't, than are talking about the two that are. And yeah, I'm sure it doesn't hurt Galarraga's feelings that Chevrolet gave him a Corvette.

Like I said, personally I'm not a big sports fan. But sometimes there are some amazing lessons in sports. The grace and mercy shown by Galarraga, and the honesty and responsibility shown by Joyce are things we could all work on. Imagine what the world could be like if the Church as a whole operated that way - I think everyone would get the point of Jesus pretty easily.


Soliloquy said...

Just wow.

I am feeling SO convicted about my own attitudes toward refs. I always feel like they are totally against us - and maybe sometimes dirty money makes that true - but my responsibility is ME. My actions speak.

Thanks for the reminder. Headed to a weekend tourney.

Tracy said...

You are SO right! I even heard about this... and I'm like you. If it weren't for Leonard, no sports would even play in our house! I love stories where integrity wins. (I'm glad I found your blog! I love it!)

MK said...

Great post ... enjoy your writing.

jackiegogo said...

Beautiful blog.

I think that Galaraga and Joyce both displayed how athletes, men and just people should behave on and off the field. We hear so much about athletes using steroids, abusing women and alcohol, and so many awful things its about time we hear about this kind of behavior. I think that the MLB should be proud of all of the men involved and do not let these acts of compassion, and kindness go unrewarded. What an example for kids on behavior on and off the field. I learned from Joyce's behavior after the call that real men do cry.