A flood of public support has descended on the major league umpire who made a bad call and cost a pitcher a coveted "perfect game," a feat that has been achieved only 20 times in major league history according to Wikipedia.
A perfect game is a game in which a pitcher pitches a victory that lasts a minimum of nine innings and in which no opposing player reaches base.
On Wednesday, umpire Jim Joyce cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga his "perfect game" when Joyce mistakenly called a runner safe at first base ... and later admitted he had been wrong.
According to an Associated Press story:
Replays later showed he missed the call, and Joyce admitted he blew it.
He was devastated, and apologized to Galarraga in person and hugged him after the Tigers' 3-0 win. Galarraga was also supportive, saying he respected Joyce for apologizing and admitting his mistake.
Support for the umpire who goofed came from as far away as the White House, where admitting mistakes is not often viewed favorably.
All of this may be very heart-warming, even to people like me who are only mildly interested in baseball. To die-hard fans for whom baseball may be something shy of God Almighty, it is nothing short of miraculous.
Miraculous on the one hand and yet when you think about it, why should it be miraculous that a man should recognize there are things that are more important than his status ... as for example, his honesty? Am I wrong to sense a far-reaching relief -- almost to tears -- that someone in the public eye should take the responsibility for what I think everyone knows in their heart is the right thing to do ... to put ego aside and, just this once, tell the truth?
What does it say about any of us that we should feel this out-pouring of affection? Doesn't it suggest we -- whether in the public eye or not -- have been on a mistaken course ... covering up, spinning the facts, trying to look good, putting the best (instead of the true-est) face on things?
Clean and clear is just plain better for the heart. Evasion has a sloppy, somewhat cloying feel to it, like bubblegum stuck to the sole of the shoe on a hot day ... tendrils trailing behind, sticky, heavy and yet lacking much weight, annoying and keeping laughter at bay.
I guess we've all done it, but perhaps we can take a lesson from a major league umpire or from our own hearts. There is a difference between being a good person and bringing evidence to bear that we are good people.
The difference lies in the laughter.