Conflict Resolution


The week of May 31, 2010 had a really important event for us to consider. It concerned the controversy surrounding the "no–hitter" pitched by Armando Galarraga against Cleveland on June 2nd. There were two distinct dramas enacted there. One was the injustice to Galarraga for having his no–hitter "stolen" (umpire’s word) from him and to the umpire Jim Joyce for the blown call. Both have to go through unnecessary suffering, sacrificed as they were on the altar of the "game" ⁄inflexible institution of organized baseball. The second was the display of love for Joyce shown by Galarraga who forgave Joyce, shook his hand and who understood the beleaguered umpire’s trapped position. He was trapped and major league baseball offered him no escape. His name will always be associated with what has been termed the "worst" call ever made by a major league umpire in the history of baseball. Nor will Galarraga be duly compensated for being deprived of something everlasting, priceless in the annals of baseball. This precious piece of achievement instead was denigrated by General Motors awarding him a Corvette, something neither as priceless, nor precious as what he lost. In addition, they self–promoted their company giving the impression that the material object, which Galarraga graciously accepted (he would have much rather had the no–hitter; and with his salary he could have easily bought 10 of them), was a just compensation (we all know the expense incurred by this "gift" to Galarraga for housing it, insurance, and all the other maintenance expense attached to keeping the auto, which we have no information that GM will pick up, which they should, but seems unlikely.)

The impact of how Galarraga acted toward Joyce and Joyce’s response (including admitting his error) plus the responses of manager Jim Leyland and the Detroit ballplayers, were exemplary. Many people around the country were deeply moved by the display of good will extended by Galarraga absorbing the injustice with composure and humanness. These moments in the aftermath are indelible in people’s consciousness and are precious, priceless, instructive to how we can be forgiving and loving to a transgression.

One of the accomplices in the injustice is the insensitivity of Commissioner Bud Selig who displayed no apparent regard for the suffering of both Galarraga and Joyce, instead acting with the callus detachment of a coldhearted institution showing a lack of care for the gentlemen involved. The reversing of the call could only enhance the image of baseball in people’s consciousness. The current decision has only drawn an aura of disrespect for baseball, which it doesn’t deserve. The idea that instant replay would damage the game is a red–herring. The idea that games or matches would be extended is nonsense. Sure there may be a few extra minutes added in those few instances where it is applied. Now, compare how much time is added to games ⁄ matches by the infernal intrusion of ads taking a great quantity of time making the replay minutes look like moments. In addition, why does a fan paying a good deal of money these days to attend a game have to be at the mercy of mistakes made by officials? After all, the overwhelming calls made by sports refs ⁄ umps we can and do live with. It’s the critical ones that come as shocks because they are unusual that have to be as precise and correct as possible. The number of such instances is really few and far between and needs to be justly evaluated.

What needs to be done in this case is to reverse the decision, give the no–hitter to Galarraga and what he justly deserves; relieve Joyce of his suffering; restore the human side to baseball; don’t send the incorrect message to the public that the material can substitute for the immeasurable quality of the event; and keep the profound impact of Galarraga’s behavior continue resounding in the eyes and ears of adults and children alike. In doing so nothing is lost and everything is gained. For now something profound is lost when justice is not served. Doing the right thing by both men, in this case both and not either–or situation, takes away pain and leaves America’s pastime untarnished.