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Baseball and Mercy

Last night, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers threw a perfect game.


Except the last hitter, the 27th out, was called “safe” at first base. The call was wrong. Replays have shown the call was wrong. The umpire, Jim Joyce, admits he got the call wrong.

What strikes me about last night was not the wrong call. It was how the call was handled after the game. Joyce didn’t have the advantage of replay during the game, but he saw a replay almost immediately after the game was over. He went over to the Tigers’ locker room and personally apologized to Galarraga. Reports indicate Joyce was broken-hearted about taking away a piece of history from the Tigers’ pitcher. (There have only been 20 recorded perfect games in MLB history. Rare doesn’t begin to cover it.)

Then Galarraga forgave Joyce. So did the Tigers’ players. Even manager Jim Leyland, known for his straight-forward and colorful language, backed off on skewering Joyce with his tongue.

We saw something interesting last night. We saw mercy. We saw a man acknowledge his failure, but we also saw men choose not to use that acknowledgment for their own gain. While commissioner Bud Selig continues to determine whether or not to overrule Joyce’s call and award Galarraga a perfect game, the Tigers organization has not filed an appeal. Nor do they intend to. Let me repeat: the Detroit Tigers, representing the aggrieved party, are not filing an appeal. Though it would be just, they have chosen mercy – for an umpire. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

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