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Beyond Their Years

By Chris Jacobson

Over the last few months Denverites have become very familiar with budding superstar Ubaldo Jimenez. We were amazed by his no hitter and continue to be in awe of what is being called the “best start to a season since…” What is more is that this is all being done by a kid who seems unassuming and grounded. Ubaldo lives with his mother and seems much closer to the kid next door than what we have come to expect from players on the precipice of their sport.

Wednesday night young Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga flirted with perfection and only lost his perfect game with an obviously bad call with two outs in the ninth inning by Field Umpire Jim Joyce. Historically, when a baseball player perceives that a bad call has gone against them the results are less than civilized. Most fans can remember George Brett’s reaction to the pine tar incident, Tony Tarasco’s reaction to little Jeffrey Maier’s assist to Derek Jeter’s post season home run or Moises Alou’s temper tantrum that lead to Steve Bartman’s move to the witness protection program. Galarraga’s reaction was very different; he simply gave an incredulous smile to Joyce and finished the game’s final out. The young man had just been robbed of baseball history and he just went back to work. No yelling, no screaming, just class. After the game Galarraga stated with sincerity that everyone makes mistakes and that Joyce has been a good umpire for a long time. With similar dignity Jim Joyce pulled Galarraga aside immediately after the last out and apologized. When interviewed later he reiterated that the play was the “call of his life” and he had “kicked the S@#% out of it”. With no calls to the union, no posturing and no blaming anyone else, Joyce simply apologized. The result, instead of rabid fans calling for the termination of a twenty year umpire, the reaction is a general appreciation for all parties involved. If only Ed Hochuli was given the same respect, his name wouldn’t be synonymous with “inadvertent whistle”.

Maybe this is the way the game is headed, hard work without complaint and achievement without preening. Hopefully, Rockies fans will get to watch Ubaldo Jimenez’ career blossom into what many of us think he can be; a Cy Young candidate, a twenty game winner, a superstar. With any luck we will watch the entirety of his career with him clad in black and purple. Hopefully the perfect game debacle is just the beginning of a bright future for Armando Galarraga and he becomes the class of the Detroit organization. Hopefully the maturity and class that these two young players have shown will become the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

1 comment:

  1. I think baseball is seeing a resurgence of having more quality "good guys" in the game. Joe Mauer, Pujols, Howard are all good guy stars you can root for. Jimenez seems like the easiest of all the young pitchers to cheer for. MLB needs to really get behind these guys in marketing material, they are making a mistake by not doing it and letting people start to think baseball is full of Arod's and Ramirez's.