Hey BP, Pay attention!
By Phil Ricci, The World: by Phil
A couple nights back, Armando Galarraga was standing on the mound, literally one out away from history. Not only was he so close to a perfect game, but he would have been the second pitcher to throw one in a week; and the third of the year. Amazing. He had just watched his teammate make an amazing Willie Mays style grab in the outfield; and had a grin on his face like a school boy getting a piece of chocolate after class. It was his night. It kind of had to be. Guys were making killer plays, his location was flawless and he was only around his 80th pitch so his tank was still pretty full. He just had one batter left.
Everyone knows what happend next, right?
Jim Joyce was positioned on the first base line as he had been all night; and other nights during his twenty two year Major League career. He watched as Galarraga went through each batter in succession, making his calls when needed. It seemed like it was going to be a special night. It was, but not in the way I’m sure he thought. When that fateful hit was made, Joyce dug in and watched as runner and pitcher charged the bag. The ball was fielded clean and over to Galarraga himself, it was close but he was totally…
What!? What did he say? Did he say safe? I couldn’t believe it, Galarraga couldn’t believe it; and pretty much the baseball watching world couldn’t believe it. A perfect game gone in an instant; off a bad call. No off “the most egregious blown call in baseball over the last 25 years” as Tyler Kepner from the New York Times put it.
As a matter of fact, you pretty much can’t go anywhere without hearing about this play. Every sports channel, station, writer and blogger have been pouring the hearts over just how bad it was. Many calling for Selig to reverse it, but all screaming about expanding instant replay, for Joyce to be fired; anything! I understand the frustration. My heart sank in that moment. I get that people feel that it wasn’t just Galarraga who was robbed, but them in a way as well. I understand that it just wasn’t suppose to end that way.
But it did.
What I haven’t heard is about the good side of the story. The side that actually teaches us something more than just about outs or replays. It’s the side that isn’t sexy or controversial, but it is the side that is needed and important. The Human Side.
After the call was made, the world exploded. People came out of the woodwork to attack Joyce. They screamed in his face, they called him some choice phrases that even the most beginner lip reader could get; and they beat him down with waving arms of frustration. Joyce took it all. He didn’t yell, didn’t respond, just accepted it. Keep in mind at this point he had no idea if he was wrong or right. He made a call that he felt was correct, but unlike the rest of us, he did not have the luxury of the repeated frame by frame replay that we saw. After the game was over the only thing he wanted to do was see for himself if he was right. Once he realized that he wasn’t, he broke down.
In business and in life we make mistakes. We will get the call wrong. BP has done nothing but get the call wrong since the explosion in the Gulf first took place. They spent the first four weeks blaming everyone except themselves for what is ultimately, their responsibility. The explosion and spill killed innocent people, destroyed thousands of sea life and has ended communitues of business. Jim Joyce missed a call in a baseball game. Yet he went out, found Armando Galarraga and with tears in his eyes, apologized.
“I just cost the kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the replay. It was the biggest call of my career.”
For Galarraga’s part, the term “grace under fire” has nothing on this guy. Nolan Ryan, arguably one of the best pitchers in history who threw like a hundred No Hitters, never pitched a perfect game. Galarraga was one four letter word away from that fame, but when the call came down, he didn’t scream or jump up and down. What he did was go back on the mound and get the next batter out.
“I’m a calm person. At that moment, [I did] not get angry, I was more sad about it,” Galarraga said.
Sad, yes, but not rude. When Joyce came to him after the game to apologize, he accepted it, told him ”it was OK” and embraced him in a hug. In every interview since, he has been a class act. Constantly reassuring everyone that he is not going after Joyce or the call. He even appeared on the CBS “Early Show” Friday and said “nobody’s perfect,” that simple.At the end of the day Joyce didn’t hide from his error, he owned it. He displayed the kind of courage and ethics that only a true professional can have. It’s not easy being wrong, but it’s even harder admittingit, especially when it affects other people in such a negative way. Yet in every bad situation, there is always something that can be learned. What I learned was that we could all use a little of what Galarraga and Joyce has displayed. Couldn’t we BP?
Until Next Time….