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A blown call

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POSTED: June 7, 2010 1:39 p.m.
It was the mistake heard round the world.  
We’re referring to the blown call in the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland innings. It was made by Jim Joyce, a highly respected veteran umpire of 22 years. The call came at first base with two outs when Jason Donald was ruled safe after a close play. It cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game -- one of the rarest feats in all of sports.  
There’s been quite an ado since. Joyce has been roundly excoriated and fans, being the unforgiving sort they generally are, have been busily burning him in effigy.
An internet search soon after the incident revealed more than 85,000 hits for “Jim Joyce umpire.” Hundreds of anti-Jim Joyce pages have sprang up on Facebook, and their treatment of Joyce has been described as ‘medieval.” That’s a fair assessment.
But not everyone is trying to bury Joyce in an avalanche of venom. If anything, the prolonged booing is starting to generate a backlash of sorts against the too judgemental.
Many in the game itself, along with sports media and fans -- and observers of life in general -- have come to his defense, correctly noting that making a split second decision isn’t easy even for someone with his credentials. What’s more, there’s something far more important going on here, a show of grace under pressure and sportsmanship that ought to be required viewing for everyone. Because both Joyce and Gallaraga really did something extraordinary. They acted like grown ups.
 At a time when everyone’s eyes were on Joyce and a city wanted revenge, Joyce owned up to his mistake. He admitted he was wrong.  “I cost that kid a perfect game,” he said.
He then also made it a point to apologize to the pitcher.
Gallaraga, fresh off throwing perhaps the most talked-about one-hitter in baseball history, was gracious, noting that “nobody is perfect, everybody makes mistakes.” It appeared as if he felt worse for the man making the mistake than he did about the mistake itself, even though it cost him a place in baseball history.
The behavior of both men is all too rare today, where blame seems to be shifted rather than shouldered and many expect things to go their way all the time -- and look to blame someone when it doesn’t happen. The lesson should be obvious, and not just for those participating in sports. When you make a mistake, admit it. When someone else makes a mistake that affects you, be willing to forgive the person who made it.
 

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