Friday, June 4, 2010

Youth Baseball: Not a Perfect Game, but a Perfect Teaching Moment

Armando Galarraga was a surprise Rookie of the Year candidate in 2008 posting a 13-7 record with a 3.73 ERA. His career started out just perfectly.

Galarraga's star faded after a disappointing 2009 sophomore campaign, when Galarraga fell to 6-10 with a 5.64 ERA. In March, Galarraga was relegated to the Tiger's minors after a disappointing spring training.

Galarraga was recently promoted to the Tiger's starting rotation again. Yesterday, he took the mound and was absolutely perfect. Unfortunately umpire Jim Joyce was not. On what should have been the last play of a perfect game, Jim Joyce wrongly called the 27th hitter safe at first. The perfect game was erased from the record books. Although there have been two perfect games pitched this year, there have only been 20 perfect games in the entire history of Major League Baseball, so Jim Joyce's blown call was historic.

Did Armando Galarraga get upset, yell and cry about the injustice? Did he pick up the first base bag and throw it like the childish Lou Piniella? Did he spit in the face of the umpire like Roberto Alomar? No, he smiled in disbelief and went back to the mound and recorded the final out.

Jim Joyce, who looks like a steal worker, cried as he apologized to Galarraga, to the Tiger fans and to the game he loves, baseball.

Today, the day after the blown call, Jim Joyce took the field and the Tiger fans were gracious. Armando Galarraga took the line-up card to Jim Joyce and shook his hand. Jim had tears in his eyes again. All was forgiven. All was forgotten, expect how Galarraga and Joyce handled the unfortunate situation perfectly.

The Main Point

The non-perfect game was more perfect than a perfect game. It provided the perfect teaching moment for dads, moms and coaches alike. The are ups and downs in baseball as Gallaraga's short career illustrates, but Gallaraga did not take an up moment, winning a game with a 1 hitter, and make it into a down moment. And in the process he gained the respect of baseball fans world wide, more so than if he had pitched a perfect game. His star has never been brighter.

Craig Heimbuch wrote a convincing post on the teaching moment Galarraga gave the baseball world on

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