Thursday, June 03, 2010

Just a Bit Early

WOW! Did I ever post the latest Random Baseball too early.

First, "The Kid," Ken Griffey, Jr., announced his retirement from baseball after 22 years. Many are saying it's about a year too late but in the same breath what an amazing player he was. And he was. I don't know that I'll ever see a sweeter and prettier swing from the left side of the plate. The fact that the (once) scrawny looking kid was plowing balls over the outfield wall with consistency was a bonus. He and his dad played together on the Mariners (pictured above) and on September 14, 1990 Sr. and Jr. hit back-to-back jacks.

Junior played in the steroid era and not once was his name ever brought up in doping conversations. I truly believe that had he not been plagued by injuries later in his career we would not have had all those Barry Bonds conversations. Griffey would own the home run record. Griffey was just that damn good.

Second, what to say about Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce? Detroit pitcher Galarraga faced 26 batters and got 26 outs. No one reached base. He was one out away from the year's THIRD PERFECT GAME. He induced a ground ball to the first baseman. He covered 1st as he surely practiced hundreds of times in Spring Training. The first baseman threw a good ball and Galarraga stepped on first before the runner. And umpire Jim Joyce called the runner safe!

The smile on Galarraga's face (pictured above) after the call was one of disbelief and acceptance. It silently asked Joyce, "Are you really sure? Really?" Galarraga then went about his business and got the 28th out of the game.

After the game Joyce admitted his mistake and has apologized. Something you never see. Galarraga, with the same grace he showed after the bad call, with the same poise that gave him a 28 out perfect game minutes earlier, accepted the apology.

Of course, arguments for instant replay are abounding. I fear they may gain more traction. I can't give a strong logical argument against them other than I just don't want it and don't think it belongs. I don't think they belong in any sport for that matter. It's not just the competition and the thrill of victory that makes sport great. It's also learning to accept the limits and imperfection of being human. Physical and mental errors are part of the game and can break your heart. So are blown calls.

Joyce stepping up to the plate and admitting his mistake and apologizing makes him a better umpire than most. Galarraga's grinning acceptance makes him a better man than many. That includes ma as I'm sure I would have been apoplectic.

Galarraga may not go into the record books as the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game but everyone knows he did. And more people are going to remember his name and this game down the line than if it had been ruled perfect.



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