Thursday, June 3, 2010

Almost Perfect

But the Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
II Corinthians 12:9

Everyone is talking about Armando Galarraga’s (almost) perfect game.

It would have been a perfect game if the umpire had not blown the call on what should have been the final out. Even the umpire was in tears, after he watched the replay and concluded that he had missed it. Later he hugged the pitcher and apologized. He said that he had missed the most important call of his career.

I am thinking of another almost perfect game, almost exactly thirty-one years ago, on May 26, 1959. Harvey Haddix pitched twelve perfect innings and then lost in the thirteenth. At the end of nine innings, the score was 0-0. Lew Burdette, pitching for the Milwaukee Braves had given up twelve hits, but still had a shut-out. Haddix was perfect.

In the thirteenth inning, one runner reached on an error, but the no-hitter was still intact. Then Henry Aaron walked. Still a no-hitter. Then Joe Adcock hit a home-run. No more no-hitter, no more shut-out. The game should have ended 3-0, but Aaron thought the home run was a ground rule double, and he left the base paths and headed for the dugout. Adcock, running with his dead down, passed Aaron and touched home plate. Both Aaron and Adcock were called out and the game ended 1-0. The game went from perfection to chaos in an instant.

Galarraga is not the first pitcher to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning. In 2001 it happened to Mike Mussina (Yankees-Red Sox) and over the years there have been many.

Everyone, including the umpire, thinks it was a bad call.

I’m not so sure. Having seen it replayed over and over, I think it’s closer than people think. Looking from behind the first baseman, it looks like it’s not even close. But from the other side, I’m not so sure. The ball hits the glove and then rolls around. It makes a complete circle. Or so it seemed to me. And I’m not sure where the runner’s foot was when the ball stopped rolling.

If we went back over all those other “perfect” games, my guess is that we would find a lot of things that were less than perfect. We would find many times when balls were called strikes. But they were earlier in the game and maybe they weren’t third strikes, so they were forgotten.

Real perfection does not belong to us. It only belongs to God.

That’s not much comfort to Armando Galarraga, who was gracious in his disappointment. But it is till a good lesson for the rest of us.

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