You probably know that I am not a Detroit Tigers fan. I don’t care follow the Tigers and I pay no attention to whether the Tigers win or lose, unless it affects the position of my Minnesota Twins in the standings.
It is impossible, however, not to feel for Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga, whose perfect game was taken away from him two days ago by 1st base umpire Jim Joyce’s bad call in what should have been the final out of the game. What we saw as the incident unfolded, however, was not the typical aggressive behavior and defensive posturing that happens when an umpire blows a call.
As my friend Rabbi Jason noted on his blog (Perfection is Hard to Come By), in an era of overpaid, spoiled, grandstanding sports figures, Galarraga accepted the call with a smile, went back to the mound, and finished the game like a gentleman. This is the kind of sportsmanship that is sadly lacking in much of professional sports.
Following the game, Jim Joyce knew he made the worst mistake of his career. He didn’t try to defend it. He didn’t make excuses. He said that he had a good angle and just missed the call. His apology to Galarraga was immediate and from the heart.
How refreshing, and what a terrific sports lesson. Parents, talk about this with your children. This is a lesson in the Embodied Torah of Ethics. This is what it means to behave, at all times, as if you are a walking, talking, embodiment of God’s instruction book.