Thursday, June 03, 2010

Sportsmanship

In an era in which professional athletes are seen as overpaid, arrogant, willing to cheat and caring only for themselves comes an amazing story about sportsmanship.

By now, you are aware of the wrong call Major League umpire Jim Joyce made during last night's Detroit-Cleveland game. Plain and simple, Mr. Joyce goofed when he called an Indians' player safe, and by doing so ended the perfect game opportunity for Tigers' pitcher Armando Gallaraga.

Shortly after the game, Mr. Joyce admitted what already had become clear to sports fans:

“I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

The link to the full story about Wednesday night's game can be accessed here, and it includes the quote highlighted above.

Just in case you are not a baseball fan, a perfect game takes place when a pitcher retires all 27 men he faces without a single player reaching base. Only 20 times in league history has that happened.

Today, a rapid series of events took place. First, Major League commissioner Bud Selig, not a favorite of mine for what it's worth, announced that Mr. Joyce's call would not be overturned. In my opinion, that is the proper decision -- I didn't feel that way in the rush of emotion from last night, but the rules of the game do not permit Mr. Selig from overruling the umpires. He shouldn't be able to arbitrarily decide something based on public whim.

But the more important event took place before today's game between the same Tigers and Indians -- watch as Mr. Gallaraga and Mr. Joyce shake hands at home plate.

Mr. Gallaraga did not pitch a perfect game. Mr. Joyce did not make a perfect call. But in their words and actions, they have provided a perfect example of sportsmanship. And with all due respect to Mr. Gallaraga's pitching accomplishment (let's face it, he deserved the perfect game), together he and Mr. Joyce have done something far more important -- let's hope the lesson is not lost on America's youth...and current professionals.

No comments: