Friday, June 4, 2010


I don't know if Bud Selig should unilaterally change the outcome of Wednesday's imperfect game. I don't know if he will.

I do know, however, that we learn a lot more from our failures than our successes. And in this case we learned a lot more from imperfection than perfection. We learned who Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga are.

And I don't mean that now we know their names, or that one missed a call, or that one lost a perfect game.

In imperfection, they revealed about themselves the stuff that counts much more than any line in a record book.

We know that Jim Joyce has humility and a capacity, it seems, to feel even worse about the outcome than the pitcher who was robbed. We know he has enough self-esteem and little enough self-regard to freely admit his mistake. No excuses, no bluster.

And we know that Armando Galarraga, a player most of us had never heard of before Wednesday, is a professional in the best sense of the word. We also know that he has an immense pool of decency and empathy, enough to understand the suffering of someone who caused him such disappointment.

Perfect isn't everything. And twenty-seven outs, no base-runners, isn't the only perfect thing. For both Joyce and Galarraga, knowing you did all you could -- going forward, knowing you can't go back -- may have to be enough.

And if you think about what we learned, things we'd never know if Jason Donald had been the 27th out, it might be more than enough.

Baseball really is just a game. Life is being able to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and then get on with it.

(Just a note: I wonder whether Joyce and Galarraga might have been a bit surprised by their responses too. Perhaps each even learned something new and edifying about himself.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Fenway

Reflections on a close to perfect day, a game that had a little of everything. Warning: This is probably only interesting to someone who was at the game!

  • Fan Photo Day! Arrive 1 1/2 hours early, and you can go down to the warning track and meet the Red Sox. Seriously, the whole team strolled around park, stopping to shake hands and have pictures taken with fans. For the very short fans, the young ones, lots of stooping down to get right on their level. It's enough to make you fall in love with the Red Sox (or any other team whose players spend an hour before the game greeting fans).
  • Baseball fans. They've got them in Boston. They know the game, they follow the play, they teach their kids. I made new friends: Canadians taking in a game, a guy who gave me his seat when the very tall man sat in front of me.
  • Plays at the plate! I love plays at the plate, especially when I am sitting less than 20 rows up right behind home. Two runners out at the plate on throws from the outfield; one runner out when he ran on contact (you could almost see the "whoops!" when he was three fourths of the way down the line and saw the catcher with the ball).
  • Home runs. I'm not a big fan, but in Fenway the suspense just kills you. Is it a foul, a ground rule double, a big bounce off the Green Monster, a home run? There were at least four today (OK, I lost count!). One, hit by Dustin Pedroia, was upheld on review. Even Pedroia seemed surprised. He literally stopped at second, hung out for a few seconds, and then continued on his way when the umpire waved him home.
  • Concussion in right field! Ryan Sweeney took a knee to the head in an outfield collision. Yikes.
  • Rules. Turns out you can bring outside food into Fenway. I stopped at Trader Joe's and got a half pint of raspberries. No reason why I should gain five pounds every time I go to a game.
  • Ball park food. That doesn't mean I can't also have an italian sausage.
  • The rare six-out save. Closers almost never go more than an inning these days. But, in honor of my visit (I'm sure), Andrew Bailey entered the game in the eighth, two on and no outs. He got Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youklis to fly out, and David Ortiz struck out. In the ninth, he gave up a solo home run but nonetheless closed things out.
  • Youklis's batting stance. What's up with that? In any case, it works for him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


As I countdown to my departure, I'm already anticipating what I'll miss about Providence:

  • Walking up and down hills in my beautiful neighborhood.
  • Seeing familiar faces on my route: An older man bundled up in a yellow rain coat, a smiling woman with swinging arms who walks fast, a whole bunch of dogs.
  • All the unstructured time, with no appointments and no outside demands.
  • Indian, Thai and -- most especially -- Vietnamese food.
  • Starbucks, I'm a little embarrassed to admit.
  • Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
  • The view of the State House from the top of College Hill.
  • The literature section in the Brown Bookstore.
  • Feeling smart and relaxed and competent.
  • Doing laundry at the laundry mat (seriously).
  • Being able to walk everywhere (oops, I can do that at home!).
  • Having my favorite colleague down the hall and his family just down the street.
  • Being a train ride away from my family and major league baseball.
  • The New York Times, daily, on paper.
  • Baked goods in Providence (sublime! divine! added inches to my hips!).
  • Sleeping soundly at night, knowing all the noises I hear are for someone else to fix.

What I won't miss: humidity, insects, washing dishes by hand and passive-aggressive garbage collectors.