Thursday, June 3, 2010

Perfection is in the Eye of the Beholder

So what should MLB have done now that Bud Selig has ruled that the call cannot be changed? Umpire Jim Joyce admits he blew the call. The next batter grounded out. What’s the harm in reversing what was clearly the wrong decision and giving Armando Gallarraga the perfect game he pitched on Wednesday night?

For those of you outside Chicago and Philadelphia who didn’t realize the NHL Stanley Cup finals are being played magnificently, compare what happened in the last game almost at the same time as the goings on in Detroit. The Flyers shot the puck on net and a Blackhawk flicked it out before the officials could see if the puck had crossed the line. Play continued for ninety seconds until an icing call. Then after a look at the replay, the officials declared the goal counted. The ninety seconds were put back on the clock. Even if the Blackhawks had scored a goal during that time, it would have been erased.

Which result is more just, to use the legal term for the purposes of this Blog?

As someone who is Flyered Up, I was thrilled that the right call was made in the hockey game. Playoff hockey is such a brutal game and the players seem to give more of themselves in that sport than in any other, well past the point of exhaustion, performing feats on ice that on solid ground would be remarkable.

But baseball is the most human of games. Players don’t commit penalties or make turnovers, they commit errors. The best hitters fail two thirds of the time. It is a sport that reflects the wonder of human frailty. As the biblical texts teach us, even the angels were jealous of humans because their free will allowed them to make wrong decisions, which made the right ones so much richer.

The way Gallarraga and Joyce have conducted themselves since the one hitter shows how perfect human beings, and baseball, can be.