Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Grace

Maybe it was Sax's reflective piece on aging that kicked it off, but last week in the baseball world felt like a positive sign for us summer chickens. Why? Let's meet our cast of characters:

GARRET ANDERSON (age 38). There's not a lot of love for GA in these parts: He's routinely referred to as "GAARP" in our Game Threads, and some actually bemoaned that his game-winning hit last week might extend his Dodgers tenure. It's good thing he doesn't listen to us.

While Xavier Paul (age 25) gets his regular ABs in Albuquerque, it looks like we're stuck with GAARP. I'm not hopeful that GA has more walk-off hits left in him (although he had an RBI-double last night), but it was nice to see him show a sign of aging gracefully. Even if it took him 88 plate appearances to do it.

ARMANDO GALARRAGA (age 28). The perfecto by Dallas Braden (age 26) was heartwarming, but the imperfecto by Galarraga resonates more. Who can't relate to imperfection? Some context, from Joe Posnanski:

Nothing has ever come easily for Armando Galarraga. He signed with the Montreal Expos when he was 16 years old. He did not get out of rookie ball until he was 21. Texas got him as a throw-in when they traded Alfonso Soriano to Washington. He made one start for the Rangers and did not get out of the fifth inning. He was traded to Detroit for a minor leaguer named Michael Hernandez.

And he went ahead and retired the 28th batter like nothing had happened. Of course, he was rewarded in other ways: a new car, calls for an automatic All-Star berth (can you imagine the applause?).

But it was that smile that got you. How many of us would have just completely lost our shit in that situation? Galarraga's immediate reaction — the one he couldn't plan — tells us everything we need to know. His forgiveness afterward? Pure grace.

JIM JOYCE (age 54). Made a mistake. Admitted he made a mistake. Faced the press afterward. Made no excuses. "It was the biggest call of my career and I kicked the shit out of it," he said. Apologized for the mistake. Had to explain the mistake to his mom.

Furthermore, fulfilled his original commitment to work behind the plate in the next game — a day game following a night game, naturally. Wasn't afraid to show emotion in front of what could have been a hostile crowd. Who would you rather have calling the Dodgers game, Jim Joyce or "Cowboy" Joe West? His call may have been botched, but Joyce's stand-up attitude contained a grace of its own.

BRYCE HARPER (age 17). Who hasn't made an ass of themselves at 17? But when you're virtually guaranteed to be the first pick in the First-Year Player Draft (the Nationals picked Harper with their first pick yesterday) and due at least $10 million as a result, your actions — like drawing a line in the dirt with your bat to show up an umpire — become magnified.

Already dogged by accusations of character issues, Harper ended up getting suspended from the Junior College World Series, and his team exited the tournament shortly thereafter. He's on his way to becoming a lot richer, but he still needs to learn some grace.

JOHN WOODEN (died at lived to 99). Not directly part of the baseball world, but very much part of sports and Los Angeles. He was a genius who hated being called a wizard, but it was his devotion to his late wife that transcended grace.

A.J. ELLIS (age 29). The Dodgers' latest walk-off hero. And he had a squeeze bunt in last night's game. Expectations: 0, Ellis: 2.

So score one for the old(ish) guys. Sometimes, just sometimes, life experience is given its due. Or at least a red Corvette.

5 comments:

Meaniebreanie said...

Orel, excellent job at showing a cast of characters that exemplify the good, bad, ugly, and truly beautiful qualities that exist within humanity. We could all take lessons in class and grace from Armando Galarraga and John Wooden.

I never knew much about John Wooden. What I have learned these past few days is just how much faith this man had in God, how much he inspired and gave to others, and his strong belief in the good that exists within us.

My nephew is the lead broadcaster for ESPNU (shameless plug by a proud auntie). When addressing Wooden's death there were two quotes he attributed to him. If we all strived to live by them maybe our world would be a better place:

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are".

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you".

Fred's Brim said...

I am nearly Garret Anderson's age and I gracefully weaseled my way out of a stupid meeting scheduled for lunchtime today.

Orel said...

I will add you to the list, FB.

Meaniebreanie said...

@FB, I laud you. I need to learn your techniques.

I received this in the ole inbox after my previous post. On a much lighter note, this is one man's take on what it takes to make a better world and maybe his definition of grace. As a certain friend would say - only in Texas. Warning R rated.
http://tinyurl.com/24gqj3u

Dusty Baker said...

Did anyone else catch the Primeticket airing of the Scully/Wooden even from 2008 last night (in the LA area)? It was fantastic.