Bitter Lesson on Being A Good Sport…

No doubt by now you’ve heard all about how the 21st Perfect Game almost became MLB history but was stolen from Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga by a badly blown call courtesy of umpire Jim Joyce.

In case you haven’t seen it, the clip clearly reveals the raw, instinctive emotion felt by all the players on the field who fully realized the magnitude of the historical moment they were in, only to see it snatched away.

Apart from also feeling something of the horror that the players and fans did, I used this as a “teachable moment” with my son Matt by pointing out the following things:

  • You always play by the rules: Even when the umpire is clearly wrong, he’s always right. You can argue it, but you also have to live with it and move on.
  • When you disagree with a blown call, keep it professional and respectful.
  • Always smile rather than frown; it uses less muscles in your face.
  • When the play is over, pick yourself up and move on to the next one.
  • Respect for The Game means always playing with respect for yourself, your team-mates, opponents and officials.

The play itself was a thing of beauty to watch. But two things really captured my heart in this moment: 1) Armando Galarraga’s smile even when he knows the call is wrong and just cost him a place in Baseball History; and 2) the Cleveland Indians runner who is just as dismayed as everyone else at being called safe. However, there were no tantrums, no outbursts and no ejections for loading disrespect on the umpire which was richly deserved for the call. Galarraga went right back to work and completed the shut-out, Nuf Ced.

The other thing that I really appreciate about this is Jim Joyce himself acknowledging that he blew the call and apologizing to Galarraga after the fact. Galarraga was also gracious in saying that the umpire was “only human” and people make mistakes. Granted, it dosen’t change the outcome. But it does show heart, which is what Baseball should really be all about.

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