Hile Rutledge
Trainer, author

Hile Rutledge

CEO and owner of OKA (Otto Kroeger Associates), a training and consulting firm specializing in leadership and team development.

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A beautiful game

Q: Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga lost his bid for a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce botched a call. Joyce apologized to Galarraga, who said he gave the ump "a lot of credit." Why did this classy ending come as such a surprise? Does success lie in the initial achievement, or in what happens next?

Baseball has been doing very well for about 170 years as a human game reflecting human experiences and susceptible to human error. So many in the last week have talked about baseball's putting more reliance on the instant replay in response to last week's rather visible umpire mistake.

I would hate to see the structure and tightness of the game corrupted by the instant replay. Technology would become the authority on the field. Baseball is as close to a perfect game as possible, and while it is a shame that Galarraga was denied this tremendous honor (one that he fairly earned), the sanctity of the game is more important than any one person or event.

It is for this reason -- the obvious injustice of the bad call -- that I actually believe the whole event reflected baseball -- if not humanity -- at its best. There was great excitement and tension, and in the heat of it all, a mistake was made. Galarraga was a level-headed, good sport who took it in stride and went on with the game. The umpire, later realizing he had been wrong, admitted so and apologized.

This could have been ugly, but the key players reacted with maturity and grace. I look at the constant tension and mud-bath of our government and the willful insistence of our corporate leaders (view BP of late) to avoid accountability, and so wish our leaders could summon the kind of maturity and perspective that this baseball moment gave us last week.

It is not the first time that we have looked to baseball to give us heroes and show us the way. The fact that so many people are talking about Galarraga and "the call" means that people are still tuned into the great cultural touchstone of baseball. I very much hope this human game stays in the hands of humans and is led by players (and umpires) with such skill and grace.

By Hile Rutledge  |  June 10, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Close calls Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The "Perfect" in perfect game reflects, not on the umpires, but on the fielders and pitcher of the team that is perfect. Human error in this case was eminently correctable. There is nothing "perfect" about the game of baseball when an event, which has occurred only 20+ times in the last century plus (that's 154 and 162 games per year, by 16 teams minimum), is not reversed because of the INsanity by the Commissioner's Office to preserve baseball's sanCTiTy. What sanctity? That a blown call by a neutral observer, who admits he blew it, should be validated?
INSANITY. Give the kid the perfect game. He EARNED his Hall of Fame game. Give Jim Jones his due - he stood tall and said that he erred. Give the Commissioner his due - he cheated the kid for the "Sanctity" of the game. What more could the Tigers have done to have achieved that perfect game? Get another guy out to make a 28 out game?

Posted by: kinetic | June 14, 2010 3:53 PM
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There's no instant replay in life. That's why baseball is the perfect game.

Posted by: jscrist | June 14, 2010 9:56 AM
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Thank you for this.

Posted by: oxhead1 | June 14, 2010 7:35 AM
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