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Grace of Galarraga & Joyce More Amazing than Perfect Game

Another perfect game would have created a day’s headline, a brief celebration and become but an obscure footnote in a record book. But the truly amazing grace shown by both Detroit’s Armando Galarraga and umpire Jim Joyce will provide a memory for the ages! It’s not only a memory, but an important life lesson in claiming your optimism advantage.

For those of you unacquainted with the story, a blown call in the ninth inning by umpire Jim Joyce with two-outs in an otherwise perfectly pitched game, cost the young pitcher an opportunity to join the record books. Replays showed that the Cleveland Indians runner was clearly out, but Joyce called him safe. The call was not reversed on the field, and the final out was recorded in Galarraga’s “one hit” shutout on the next batter. The umpire’s human error was unfortunate but part of the game. Let’s face it, as with life, human error is part of the great game of baseball…and of life. Bad calls happen.

In this case, we can learn a lot from one very special pitcher and umpire. Instead of complaining, blaming or getting stuck in rearview mirror, both were able to show grace and understanding. Umpire Joyce personally apologized in an emotional message to the young pitcher for taking away his hard-earned reward because of his bad call. The young pitcher, Armando Galarraga, was reported by the Associated Press to say, “There’s no doubt that he feels bad and terrible. I have a lot of respect for the man. It takes a lot to say you’re sorry and to say in interviews he made a mistake. I’m sad, but I know that I pitched a perfect game, the first 28-0ut perfect game.”

Galarraga still got a prize. The Tigers and Chevrolet presented him with a new Corvette. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm earned a few extra votes by issing a proclamation that said that indeed Armando Galarraga had indeed pitched a perfect game. I’m sure millions would be ready to sign that proclamation if they could.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Write your sad times in sand. Write your good times in stone.” May both these men write the amazing grace they demonstrated in stone for all of sports to honor as a great example of sportsmanship, character…and optimism.

Far too many people live their lives in the rearview mirror, by the next game, both these character-driven professionals were back at home plate wishing each other a better future. The message was clear–”Let’s get back into the game and play ball!” When you are wronged, think about the wasted time it will take to prove that you were right and get even for the action. What could you do if you invested that time in constructive actions to better your future?

As I talk about in The Optimism Advantage, optimists get busy making the best of even a poor hand. So, when you’re moving at top speeds, forget the rearview mirror and keep your focus on making a difference out your front window!

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