Armando Galarraga’s almost perfect game

If you missed it, and considering the game took just 1 hour and 44 minutes, you may have.  Armando Galarraga got robbed of a perfect game thanks to a blown call by 1st base umpire Jim Joyce tonight.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth, Jason Donald hit a grounder to the right side of the infield between Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen. The ball wasn’t hit too hard and Cabrera was able to get over to it and throw it to Galarraga at first base.  In full speed, it looked close but it still appeared that Donald was out.  In slow motion, he was clearly out by a half stride. [...]

Jim Joyce called Donald safe.

My heart sank.

Then I got pissed.

As I was going through a wide range of emotions, an amazing thing happened.  Armando Galarraga, having just been robbed of a historic achievement and the right to the 21st perfect game in major league history, didn’t throw a tantrum.  He didn’t get in the umpire’s face.  He simply put his hands on his head in disbelief as a “I can’t believe that just happened” smile crossed his face.  I felt for him, but his smile made me smile.  Keeping his cool, he got back on the mound to face the next batter.  Trevor Crowe didn’t stand a chance and, on the 5th pitch of the at bat, grounded out to end the game.

What should have been a historic ending, slid into the books as a one-hit shutout.

Make no mistake, Galarraga got hosed out of a piece of history.  He got hosed out of a game that could have been the crowning achievement of his career. Yet, he carried himself with class, kept his calm and finished the game.  The resulting one-hit shutout may still end up being the crowning achievement of Armando’s career, but goes without saying that it’s just not the same.

The funny thing is that his reaction and the way he carried himself made a bigger mark on me than the perfect game would have.  In the last couple weeks we’ve witnessed Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay turn in perfect games, but I have never seen an athlete so level headed under such circumstances.   If it were me I would have been livid.  I would have tossed my glove, started cussing the umpire out, and probably would have thrown in a bump or two resulting in my ejection.  Then I asked myself, what would Carlos Zambrano do in that situation?  Thankfully for Jim Joyce, Big-Z didn’t factor in the equation.

Another player who earned some respect in my world was Miguel Cabrera.  I appreciate the fact that Cabrera kept jawing with Joyce during the entire final at bat of the game, and had to be restrained after the game.  If I ever had any doubt whether or not Miguel Cabrera cares about the game or his teammates, and I really never have, they were erased in those few minutes.  After the game, Cabrera was not alone in having some choice words for Joyce, nor was he the only one that needed to be held back by other players.  The Tigers won the game 3-0 so it wasn’t about winning or losing.  They were sticking up for, and legitimately upset that their teammate had something special stolen away from him.

I applaud Armando Galarraga for pitching a phenomenal game.  I thank him for giving me a moment in time that, as a parent, I can point to when teaching my boys about sportsmanship and keeping your cool in the face of adversity.  I also thank Austin Jackson for making a spectacular catch to record the first out in the 9th.

Jason Donald was still out, I’m still pissed, but perhaps by way of a blown call and lost perfect game, Armando Galarraga gave us something a little more lasting.

UPDATE: For some “Tiger-centric” thoughts, check out John Parent’s article over on Motor City Bengals.

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Topics: Armando Galarraga, Carlos Guillen, Carlos Zambrano, Cleveland Indians, Dallas Braden, Detroit Tigers, Jason Donald, Jim Joyce, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Roy Halladay, Trevor Crowe

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