Botched perfect game perfect lesson for life

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

There’s no doubt one of the biggest stories in the world of sports over the past week is baseball’s perfect game “that wasn’t.”

It has been exactly one week now since Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce admittedly botched a call at first base that would have been the final out in Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Armando Gallarraga’s bid at baseball immortality. Had the correct call been made, Galarraga would have become the 21st pitcher in modern-day baseball history to pitch a perfect game.

This story has captured the headlines of sports pages and talk radio call-in programs across the country. Literally, millions of words have been written and spoken about this story. Most of the controversy has centered on whether MLB Commissioner Bud Selig should reverse the call.

The one thing that seems to be constant in sports is that fans are passionate about their opinions. I’ve heard rational arguments for both sides of the discussion. I’m just not sure that’s the real issue regarding this story. Either way, Galarraga has secured his spot in the record books. Baseball historians will not let his story go unwritten.

I think the main thing all of us who have followed this story should take away from it is the way in which both of the main individuals involved have handled themselves. Joyce and Galarraga have been exemplary in their behavior regarding this story.

Joyce publicly admitted he was wrong, and almost immediately offered his sincere apology to Galarraga. In the same vein of sportsmanship and class, Galarraga accepted the apology and basically stated, “Hey, we’re all human.”

To me, that captures the real essence of this story. A situation that had the potential to turn into something really ugly ended up being a life lesson for everyone.

To put it into the simplest of terms, it has reinforced the importance of taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and decisions. Joyce did exactly that. He realized HE made the mistake. He didn’t offer any excuses, or try to blame that mistake on anyone else or anything else. It was his fault, and his only.

Not to be outdone, Galarraga also reminded everyone of something we’ve all been subject to at one time or another. Perhaps it is the one universal platitude that is 100 percent true, 100 percent of the time: “Life is not fair!”

He didn’t whine, rant and rave, or throw a major hissy fit about how he had been wronged; instead, he took the high road and graciously accepted the reality of the situation. Humans make mistakes.

To me, that is what we should all take away from this unfortunate episode. The world would be a whole lot better place if we did. Kudos to Joyce and Galarraga for acting like responsible human beings!

From the June 9-15, 2010 issue

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