Friday, June 4, 2010

When good rules go bad

I admit it, I am a bit of a ‘rules’ kind of guy. I prefer things to be fairly straightforward, vividly explicit, and my rainbows to come in two colors - black and white. It really is not my fault since my first and ONLY internship in college was at a legal clinic. Even as a lowly intern, it did not take too long to realize that no physics are involved at all - the world ACTUALLY revolves around contracts and the rule of law.

Now of course my parents were pretty careful to set me straight too whenever I attempted to stray as a youngster. So given all that foundation for a lawful life, it is no wonder that I am tuned a tad tighter than a cheap guitar when it comes to rules. Today, it is fashionable to find shades of gray in most every law and it seems even the rules of grammar, ( such as the true meaning of ‘IS’) are apparently debatable.

Preamble ramble aside, rules truly ARE important, but in my life, probably the one overriding principle that has proven MORE critical, time and time again, is fundamental fairness. Oh no, I have opened that triple-locked and sealed door of interpretation – what happened to all that ‘holier than thou’ tough 'Texas Ranger' talk?

Well I have to admit, even though I am not much of a sports fan, I was frustrated that Detroit Tigers baseball pitcher, Armando Galarraga was denied a ‘perfect game’ due to a admittedly erroneous umpire call. Now mind you this was not any old ump-blunder , this was the LAST OUT of the LAST INNING of a NO HITTER! There have been only 20 perfect games in the entire history of baseball and Galarraga delivered the goods for a 21st yesterday and deserves the appropriate recognition.

Now there is no CRISIS in baseball – this was an admitted error on the part of a human umpire. Replay tapes clearly show the batter was out and everyone knows it. Major League Baseball does not have to change any long term rules about the use or non-use of replays in games. The Commissioner simply has to step up and RIGHT AN OBVIOUS WRONG and reverse the call. It is a matter of fairness and is EXACTLY why we still have HUMANS with REAL gray matter in leadership positions judging anything or any contest. Our brains are BETTER because they are not rigid and inflexible like computerized machines.

Sports MUST compete with a set of common rules or else chaos would ensue and record books would become meaningless. However in rare and clearly SPECIAL circumstances, FAIRNESS should be the prevailing rule and the letter of the law must take a backseat. True leadership is knowing when those unusual and special times have arrived at your doorstep; and when history DEMANDS the use of your moral prerogative, power, and BRAINS to do something about it. See, even a ‘rules’ guy like me can have a heart – uh … but let’s wait and see, that opinion may yet be reversed upon closer inspection?

LATE UPDATE: This piece was prepared 12 hours prior to scheduled posting. Since that time, ML Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said 'He will not reverse' the bad call. But on a happier note, GM executive Mark Reuss, GAVE A BRAND NEW CORVETTE to pitcher Galarraga for his 'Grand Sportsmanship'. Way to go GM - I call that a class-act. Yet another reason to BUY American!


  1. I don't care about baseball. Hockey's more my thing. But, that call eveb got to me! Cheers to GM!

    Oh, and I think I need to take several grammar classes again! Living with 437 teenagers takes a toll on one's abilities in all kinds of ways!

  2. Nothing about the ump's call, but rather rules and your parents...I remember visiting you, in Denver, many many many years ago. K, was two years old and a runner. She still runs today. I suppose you could definitely say she broke a rule..when she got away from me, in your front yard. She ran and ran and ran...rounding a corner and heading for a busy street. I caught her at the corner. I was so frightened. She was given "time out" or whatever. I remember, as if it was yesterday, what you said to Kim. You were about 8 years old. "Your mommy does this because she loves you".

    We ate that whole loaf of bread. It was from breadco. Not in one sitting though.:-)

    And the pitcher set a great example of good sportsmanship...not seen so much these days.

  3. That's one LUCKY pitcher! That bad call will cause him to be remembered longer than "just another perfect gamer." He already got the Corvette -- the first of many TV guest shots and probably all the TV spokesman ops that Tiger lost. All for the right reasons too. He's a good-looking, clean-cut gentleman who IS a true sportsman. One of a dwindling breed which so many of us were hoping would return again.
    So he didn't get cheated out of his perfect game after all. The ump individualized his name in a way never to be repeated.