Armando Galarraga, who was robbed of a perfect game by a blown call from umpire Jim Joyce, has also pitched a perfect example of how to handle a potential media storm. The young Detroit Tigers pitcher has been nothing but calm, cool and classy in the kerfuffle, giving us all a lesson in how to handle oneself while in the eye of a controversy.
It began the moment the ump blew the call. Galarraga had clearly beaten batter Jason Donald to first base as he collected the throw from first baseman Miguel Cabrera. The replay showed the pitcher's initial look of triumph, but when he realized Joyce's call went the other way, he just smiled. No arguing. No getting in the ump's face to plead his case ... not even a cross look. In the parlance of the TV sports highlights announcer, cool as the other side of the pillow.
Following the game, the young star had conciliatory words for Joyce, who was being pilloried on Facebook and Twitter the moment he ruined Galarraga's date with history.
"I'm not the kind of guy who would tell him (Joyce), 'I did my job. Why didn't you do yours?" Galarraga was quoted as saying. "Why didn't you do better in that situation?' I understand that nobody's perfect, and it's a hard job," he said.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland took a similar tack with equally-outstanding tone.
"(Joyce is a ) very, very good umpire. Has been for a long time," Leyland said. "It's unfortunate. It is what it is. Nobody feels worse than he does right now, I'm sure."
No bitching. No whining. Just calm, measured statements full of compassion for another human being who made a mistake. It has been a wonderful exhibition of sportsmanship in an era of chest-thumping, money-grubbing excess. Everyone in the public eye should heed the lesson that Galarraga and his manager have provided. Today, I am very proud to be a Detroit Tigers fan.
And I was glad my son was watching the moment with me. He saw what sportsmanship really looks like, in the heat of battle. Armando Galarraga has become not only my favorite Detroit Tiger, but my favorite player in all of Major League Baseball. I wish every team had more of the likes of him.
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