Sports are an amazing thing.
They can define and divide nations, family, and friends.
As a hotbed for controversy, sports can give birth to rivalries, feuds, and hard feelings that span generations. No one does a grudge like a sports fan or competitor.
That’s why last night’s story of Armando Galarraga is so amazing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a little background.
Galarraga pitches for the Detroit Tigers and started last night versus the Cleveland Indians. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Galarraga was staring a perfect game in the face.
A perfect game in baseball is when no one from the opposing team reaches base… at all! No walks, no hits, no errors. Everybody makes an out! How big of a deal is this?
In nearly 100 years of modern Major League baseball history, it has only been accomplished 20 times. Thousands of games every year and only 20 occurrences. It’s a big deal.
The next batter hits a routine ball to the first baseman, Galarraga runs to cover first and take the throw for the out. He catches the ball in time, steps on the bag, and looks to his teammates to begin celebrating the biggest accomplishment of his career… except…
First base umpire, Jim Joyce, called the runner safe. The collective sound of every baseball fan in the world going, “WHAT?!” was almost deafening.
The ump blew the call.
Not just a call. The 27th and final out of a perfect game. A call that would guarantee Galarraga a place in baseball eternity at the Hall of Fame. Poof… gone.
After the game, Joyce reviewed the play and went to find Galarraga to apologize. That doesn’t happen in baseball. Umpires don’t apologize to anyone. But he manned up and did the right thing.
Now if you’ve stuck with me this long wondering what this has to do with success and your mindset, thanks. I’m almost there. Because the story isn’t just about the perfect game, the blown call, the apology, or if the commissioner will step in and make things right (he should by the way).
The story for me, and the lesson for all of us, is how Galarraga handled himself and the circumstances.
As soon as the call was made, he let a very natural look of dismay and wry humor cross his face. With the rest of the field erupting around him, he walked back to the pitcher’s mound without a word and got ready to face the next batter.
Just one day earlier I watched at least three different players get ejected from their games for arguing about a strike call. They lost their minds and climbed into the umpires face about something they’re not allowed to argue about anyway. This guy just had baseball immortality ripped out of his hands… and he walked back to his job with his head up and finished the game with the next batter.
He didn’t go after the umpire after the game. Instead, he gathered himself to answer all of the questions that were certain to come in the post-game interviews. It was then that he really went off and blasted Joyce, the umpire, with scathing comments like,
“I just want to thank this organization for believing in me.”
WHAT?! Come on Armando… rip him a new one! You’ve got him right where you want him… tear into the idiot. But no.
“We are all human. No one is perfect. In that situation, everyone is trying to do their best. He made a mistake.”
In the heat of losing the biggest moment of his career, Galarraga turned it into a defining moment of his life. His grace and dignity had gratitude and forgiveness oozing from every pore. Even though he was asked to live in the past by everyone around him, he chose to stay in the moment respond to things as they are.
So many of us think that it takes time to heal wounds or to learn to forgive.
- It wasn’t until last night that I realized I still haven’t forgiven Don Denkinger for blowing a call in 1985 that cost my beloved Cardinals a World Series.
- 10 years passed before I forgave my high school coaches for passing me over for Athlete Of The Year when I was a senior.
- I still have small battles with forgiving myself for not making more of an effort with my own sports career going into and out of college.
I understand sports and grudges.
Galarraga shows that we can forgive on the spot. We can grant immunity that takes the burden of resentment off our backs and lets us move forward without the handicap.
Is there a forgiveness issue holding you back anywhere? I’d love to help you work through it.
Please leave your comments and thoughts below to let me know how you feel about giving and receiving forgiveness.
Thanks and be your best,