Handling Setbacks with Class

Last week a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce cost the Detroit Tigers Armando Galarraga a perfect game—one of the rarest feats in baseball. (See video above.)

As a lifelong Tigers fan, I’m used to seeing my team end up on the wrong side of history. (Two other Tiger pitchers have lost perfect games with two outs in the ninth.) But I have to admire the way Galarraga and the Tigers handled the situation.

There could have been long-winded, obscenity-filled rants at the post-game press conference, an appeal to Major League Baseball to overturn the decision, and diatribes about the need for instant replay in baseball to make the games “fair.”

But there wasn’t any of that. At least not from Galarraga and the Tigers organization.

After the game Joyce watched the replay and admitted his mistake and apologized to Galarraga. Galarraga accepted his apology and shook his hand. The next night Galarraga was treated to a standing ovation. Joyce umpired from behind the plate. The Tigers won. Life went on.

In a world full of people who rant and rave when life doesn’t turn out the way they want it to, Galarraga’s reaction was very refreshing.

We live in a harsh, unforgiving world. Life is rarely fair. We work hard and devote our lives to building up families, businesses, and dreams only to “watch the things you gave your life to broken” by our own mistakes or the actions of others. What’s important is how we react to life’s setbacks. Do we complain and give up on our goals or shrug off the disappointment and “stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools”?

Armando Galarraga may have been robbed of his place in baseball’s history books, but his reaction to a very disappointing setback will always make him a class act in my book.