acceptance and anticipation
audio version (give it a listen instead or right click/control click to download)
This week’s post is firmly living in the “I must talk about anything but me” camp. It’s good though because it’s another chance to shock with my strange and unexpected fascination with sports.
First up is the not so rare (seriously I think it’s permeate every arena) story of Armando Galarraga and his (near) Perfect Game. I didn’t initially appreciate the idea of a Perfect Game; I still don’t think I approach it with accurate reverence. It’s a really damn hard thing to do. There have only been 20 in the history of the game. So on June 2nd Galarraga was one out away from number 21. He himself races to beat Jason Donald to first base but the umpire Jim Joyce calls Donald safe (which he was NOT). While this is amazing and heart-wrenching and noteworthy, the truly remarkable thing to me is the acceptance of Galarraga. He did not pitch a fit and act like a complete jerk. He respected the (incorrect) call and simply walked away. This picture of the moment after rocks me.
I can’t quite get over the expression on his face. It’s not defeat or anger or even sadness, it’s just the look of a man who realizes that the world is far from fair. Strange and uncontrollable and wrong things happen, they do. But I think what remains, what is remembered and what helps craft your life from that moment forward, is how you behave. Growing up I cannot even tell you how many times I saw this George Brett moment referenced:
Now yes, it was because I grew up a Royals fan but mostly because he became completely and utterly unhinged. Embarrassingly so. And clearly guilty of putting the pine tar too low on his bat. Sorry George, I have to side with the man on this one.
But Galarraga. Now talk about a moment I wish I could fix. And the reasons go beyond simply hating to see anyone come so close and lose out because of a wrong call or because it’s just so impossible to throw two in a lifetime that I just want to give him this one now. The biggest reason is he was a total gentleman, a truly compassionate soul who actually felt worse for Jim Joyce than he did for himself. Come on Bud Selig, don’t be a punk! Now I know that it’s not going to get overturned (“think of the slippery slope Louise!”) and the ache around it will dissipate. But for now, he is my hero as much for the way he played the game as the way he handled the blow.
The other story in my “let’s learn from baseball” is about my new bff Stephen Strasburg (don’t worry Rick, you are still my fav). Stephen went first in the draft and he’s been kickin’ it in the minors getting ready to be called up by the Washington Nationals. And it happened on June 8th. And you would have thought the world would stop. Talk about a heralded debut, one that actually makes me nervous because it’s so hyped. Joe Posnanski called him Christmas Morning. That is crazy hype. I mean, yes, his fast ball is 100 miles an hour and his mechanics are sound (Hey Dad are you proud? Don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about?!). And how did it go? Well he rocked. His curve ball is sick, seriously it makes the batter look like a little kid swinging and shifting. By the time they pulled him (as they said they would when he got to around 90 pitches) he had 14 strike outs and no walks. I was informed by the one who teaches me about sports (and will always take out the trash alone when I am tired) that 14 in 7 innings is pretty amazing. It’s the curve ball that shocked me, it was out of control.
So ninja curve ball aside, what made me so happy here was that he lived up to the hype. After the first inning I relaxed and simply enjoyed his skill and passion. I stopped worrying about all the “phenom” pressure he was under and the sinking feeling that failing at his major league debut would cause potentially irreparable damage to his career and his psyche. He was as great as they hoped he would be. That’s the fun part. It’s really exciting to see someone be amazing when they are supposed to be amazing. Posnanski expressed it best when he wrote: “So now, it’s just a matter of him pitching. The stuff is real. The command is real. This wasn’t an adrenaline show — this is how he pitches. And he doesn’t have to be at his wicked best to get big league hitters out. I don’t know that it will be pressure and hype that defines him from this point on; I think it could be how he mixes his pitches, how he responds when he makes mistakes, how he handles himself when he’s getting squeezed by the umpire, how he works when he’s not feeling his best. You know, all the same things that define the success of big league pitchers. Today was about expectation, about pressure, about showing everyone that he’s not some overhyped scout creation. He proved it. Nobody can doubt that now.”
So, apply as you will or simply chalk it up to Louise’s weird baseball-is-life stories. No matter what, I needed these guys this week. I had my first crying so hard I can’t breathe fit yesterday (don’t worry, I’m okay) and I needed to reframe, NOT dwell on me and find some inspiration to keep me going. So thank you Armando and Stephen- I owe you one.
And now for something that NEVER gets old and makes me laugh (because that will be the trifecta):
Have a great week and thanks for reading,