Thursday, June 3, 2010

Slap Hitter: The Perfect Next Game

By Kibby Kleiman
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 11:14 AM

There is crying in baseball. And there will be tears from those who love it. After pitcher Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers missed out on his perfect game last night in the Motor City, he delivered the line-up card to the man who cost him perfection, umpire Jim Joyce. The story of the umpire who knew he did wrong, and the pitcher, big enough to extend his hand in fogiveness is now my favorite sports story of the year.

Galarraga will now be a player to root for the rest of his days. With a national press baying for vengeance, the Tiger pitcher who had been pushed to protest, has delivered a lesson in sportsmanship that will hopefully outlast whatever fame he could have accrued with completing a pitching miracle, the third in 24 days. Following our own Dallas Braden, and Phillie Roy Halladay.

With two outs in the ninth, and one batter away from glory, Galarraga came up a step ahead of the onrushing runner, only to have umpire Joyce blow the call. Which Joyce owned up to the moment the game ended. The passion Galarraga's teammates had for their hurler was expressed in hot feelings last night, and accompanied by thoughtful reflections today. It won't stop the haters, but here's hoping that the home team really bats last on this issue.

The reprecussions are sure to follow; more replay, more technology, more legislation. But today's moment was sweeter than 27 up and 27 down. Hurray for the umpire, and hurray for Armando Galarraga, better than perfect.

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