Galarraga: the perfect reaction!

4 Jun

Last night I turned on the TV just in time to watch Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga attempt to complete a perfect game in the bottom of the ninth.

A perfect game is twenty-seven up and twenty-seven down. I said to my son Jeremy, “I hope he makes it, but I’m not sure he can do it.”  Sure enough, Cleveland’s leadoff hitter, Mark Grudzielanek, ripped a shot into deep left center. When the ball left the bat I was certain the perfect game was over. Yet center fielder Austin Jackson made a spectacular catch, an imitation of the great Willie Mays’ famous over-the-head-basket-catch. One out!

Then Mark Redmon grounded out to second. This was so cool. I was getting ready to see baseball history.

Jason Donald hit a grounder to the second base side of the infield. Galarraga was going to have to receive the throw and beat Donald to the bag. And he did! It was the third out.

Incredibly, however, umpire Jim Joyce called Donald safe.

My reaction: anger. I was yelling at the TV at the umpire. (I know. Real mature. Not!)

Galarraga’s reaction: a gracious, bewildered, disbelieving smile. He didn’t get angry. There was no malice at all. He didn’t rant and rave. He just went back to the pitcher’s mound and got the third out. Then, after the game, he offered grace to umpire Jim Joyce. He didn’t slam him. He simply said, “I know I pitched a perfect game.” And he smiled.

Umpire Jim Joyce’s reaction after the game: confession. Joyce confessed that he blew it. He said he was “kicking himself” and “felt terrible because the kid deserved it; he pitched a heck of a game.” I haven’t seen too many people lately admit they’ve been wrong that forcefully, even when everyone knows they did wrong.

Manager Jim Leyland’s reaction: compassion for umpire, Jim Joyce.

So… we all know Galarraga pitched a perfect game, even though it won’t be recorded that way in the history books…. And… he had a perfect reaction after having what he deserved taken away from him… grace + smile + compassion for the umpire!

Here’s what I’m sayin’: I want to have a gracious, first response, reaction like Galarraga. Galarraga had character. He had earned something. But he wasn’t given credit. There was a real injustice. And he didn’t cry. And he didn’t scream. And he didn’t yell. He was gracious.

I think I witnessed history last night—a concrete act of grace and compassion. And I want to be a part of that!

I saw God’s grace and compassion on the loose in the world. And I say “Amen!” to that.

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