Blown Call: What We Can Learn from Umpire Jim Joyce

Last night as Armando Galarraga was pitching a beauty for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleveland Indians, something wild and bizzare happened.  Galarraga was on his way to pitching a perfect game, meaning that he would have not given up a hit or a walk to any batter. This would have been the third perfect game this season and 21st of all time.  Galarraga has two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with a batter hitting a routine ground ball and this is what happens next. 

WOW!!  That was exactly what I started to think after this play happened.  As you can see he was clearly out at first and Galarraga would have had his first perfect game.  But instead had to settle for a one hitter. After the game, everyone got on the umpire, Jim Joyce for the obvious bad call that he made.   There was a media firestorm over this play and this was now going to haunt Jim Joyce for a long time.  To think he was going to be the one to blame for breaking up a perfect game.

But, what makes this story so amazing and such a life lesson is what happened after the game.  When the game was done and the umpires were able to go into the locker room and see the replay of the play, Jim Joyce realized he had made a mistake.  Now, Jim could have said he made the right call and stuck with his guns, but instead he decided to swallow his pride and admit he made a mistake to the media.  Now, that is big.  In this day and age of big egos and professional sports, Jim Joyce, did something that not many can do.  He confessed his mistake and asked for forgiveness.  

Now, what makes this story an even better story, is that the next day, Jim was the head umpire for the game between Detroit and Cleveland.  During the pregame, Galarraga was given the opportunity to bring out the lineup card to present to Joyce.  The two came out shook hands and Joyce was definitely overcome with emotion.  It was a touching moment as here you have Galarraga, who could have been very mad and upset at Joyce for blowing that call, but instead took the high road, accepted his forgiveness and was ready to move on.  And then there is Joyce, who was thankful for Galarraga's forgiveness.

As Christians, we can definitely learn from these two.  From Joyce, it reminded me of how much better it is to admit our mistakes and failure.  We have to keep in perspective that we are human and that sometimes we are going to make big mistakes, mistakes that we feel very bad for, but we have to be willing to confess our mistakes and ask for forgiveness.  From Galarraga, we can learn what it means to forgive and the power of forgiveness.  Just try to even put yourself in Joyce's shoes for a minute.  Here you just made the biggest error of your career and it cost someone a perfect game.  The whole world saw the play and now knows that you are wrong.  Galarraga, I am sure was not happy with the call, but he knew it happened for a reason.  And so he chose to forgive Joyce.  Just think what that must have felt to Joyce, to know that he was forgiven for such a huge mistake!!

So next time we are faced with a challenge to forgive because someone made a huge mistake that affected us, think back to this story.  And remember that God has called us to forgive our enemies.  The joy and blessing you will feel when you are able to forgive is so much more powerful than the anger you will hold onto.  My prayer is that I can step up to the plate (sorry for the pun) as Galarraga did and to say to that person that wronged me “I forgive you.”

Until next time, be blessed and live like you never have!

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