Thursday, June 03, 2010

A perfect response to an imperfect call

Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had a perfect game, no-hitter going in the ninth inning, with two outs against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, June 2. Jason Donald of the Indians hit a ground ball and ran to first base, as Galarraga ran to first, put his foot on the bag, and caught the ball thrown to him before Donald touched the base. Third out, and a perfect game, he thought. Then he looked up in surprise to see umpire Jim Joyce signal "safe."
Video instant replays showed that the umpire was wrong. But the wrong call had been made. "I cost the kid a perfect game," Joyce said afterwards, and sought the pitcher out to apologize to him. Galarraga said he was happy with winning the game and he appreciated the umpire's apology.
A lot of people are crying foul and even calling for the official record of the game to be changed. But I think we can learn some valuable lessons here.
First, from the umpire's mistake, we should remember that nobody's perfect. The Bible puts it this way: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Jim Joyce has been an umpire since 1989. He has a great reputation as a great umpire. But no umpire is perfect. There is only one perfect Judge, and He's God, not a man. So before we get all self-righteous and condemn the umpire, let's take a look at ourselves. All of us make mistakes. Few of us would admit our mistakes the way Jim Joyce did.
Second, from the pitcher's response, we can learn graciousness. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turns away wrath." By taking the high road, Galaragga showed himself not only to be a good pitcher, but also a good man. I pray that millions of boys will pay more attention to how Galaragga handled himself when he was wronged than how some other athletes handle themselves. After all, nobody said that life is fair. It may sound trite, but it's true that when life gives you lemons, you can still make lemonade.
So bravo for Jim Joyce and Armando Galaragga! May we learn from them both.

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