Saturday, June 05, 2010

An Honest Mistake

I'm finding fewer and fewer reasons to endorse the Human Race, particularly among those who parade and promote in public. I was really quite pleased, then, by the events surrounding an umpire's blown call, that cost a Major League Pitcher a 'perfect game', this week.
This world has seemed so jaundiced, lately, so much so in the 'heroes' category. It seems that even Lance Armstrong cheated while deliberately misleading everyone - lacked even one cajone for the truth. California Ballot initiatives are written so that "No" means "Yes", backed by advertising and endorsements that distort the truth past the point of propriety. Everyone is willing to turn the economy to mush as long as they get theirs. BP turns a tragedy into another toxic lesson about corporate greed, including profits from selling itself the most environmentally damaging dispersant that they happen to manufacture.
How grateful I am, then, to see two men in prominent positions exceed our ever-crumbling expectations of how they should act. One man knew instantly that the other was wrong, along with a sizeable portion of the assembled crowd. In our current society, this was clearly an opportunity to exploit, to assert one's primacy via injury in full prima-donna fashion. Instead, the opposite happened. The player accepted the call, returned to the mound, and finished the game. This is not just good sportsmanship, it was a recognition of many levels of respect - beginning with the player for himself, the umpire, and the rules of the game - that it is a game, with what has always been the possiblity that sometimes the truth suffers. Truth, as it currently stands, is not paramount in Baseball. It has been and continues to be a topic of debate.
The umpire also demonstrated great integrity. I can only imagine what it took him to rise from the replay to go to this player's locker to look him in the eye and apologize. To do so, again, publicly.
To be forgiven, graciously.
Roger Ebert talks about the "elevation" of the human spirit that movies often provide. The conduct of these gentlemen elevate us all. As it should be, the particulars of a game pale when compared to the performance of character.
We needed the lift.