Right Opinion

Why I’m Not Mad

Roy Exum · Jun. 19, 2010

In the past month and a half it has slowly dawned on me that the Gulf oil spill is the worst catastrophe my God has put on this nation’s table in my lifetime. It is also increasingly evident I may be one of the only people on the face of the earth who isn’t mad and angry about it.

Sure, I want to literally weep when I see the picture of an oil-slick pelican, who instead of diving for a morning fish is dying a gruesome death because of the man-made disaster that it threatening the entire Gulf of Mexico. I’m also heart-sick as I see the faces of Louisiana oystermen and six-year-old girls in bathing suits that don’t dare play in the surf.

But to halt all off-shore drilling, hurl horrible insults, threaten the government, and curse the BP oil company ain’t my style. So it isn’t lost on me that the best way to handle a tragedy was beautifully shown on, of all things, a baseball field instead of a drilling platform this week.

On Wednesday, June 2 a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, Armando Galarraga, had just delivered the game’s most elusive jewel, a perfect game, when one of the most-respected umpires in the major leagues, Jim Joyce, snatched it brutally away with a badly-botched call.

The 27th batter who Galarraga had faced, Cleveland’s Jason Donald, hit a wimpy grounder with two away in the ninth. The Tigers’ first baseman, Miguel Cabrera, handled it perfectly, rifling the ball back to Galarraga himself who was covering the base. The ball got there ahead of Joyce, as the replay clearly shows, but Joyce – a human being – blew the call.

Yes, it was very much a tragedy – there have been just 20 perfect games in the big leagues in over 100 years. Galarraga “wuz robbed,” in old-time baseball parlance. But because the game is what it is, the call must stand. Joyce, after he saw the replay, immediately wept unashamedly and he rushed to Galarraga, apologizing profusely.

You could easily suspect Armando to be mad, not just devastated and hurt, but fiery and profane. That isn’t what happened. No, in his broken English he told reporters, “He really feel bad. He probably feel more bad than me.

"Nobody’s perfect, everybody’s human. I understand,” Galarraga said in a gentle way. “I give a lot of credit to the guy saying, ‘Hey, I need to talk to you because I really say I’m sorry.’ That don’t happen. You don’t see an umpire after the game say ‘I’m sorry.’”

Let’s get back to the Gulf of Mexico with Armando’s mindset: “He really feel bad” and “Nobody’s perfect” and “Everybody’s human.” Don’t you see? There isn’t a big company – or a big house – close to where you live where some manmade item within it isn’t broken, be it the copy machine or a water pump or closet door.

This isn’t to make light of the oil spill, not at all. But rather than get myself into some emotional twist, it makes more sense to wonder why we haven’t cried out to Saudi Arabia, Japan, Russia and the other oil-drilling nations with the plea, “Our ox cart is in the ditch. Do any of your people have any ideas?”

One of the biggest parts of life is dealing with problems. And, sometimes, no matter how hard you try or no matter what you do, they still occur. Need another example? Let’s go back to the baseball field …

Back in early May the baseball team from tiny Calhoun High School caught my eye. Not only were the Yellow Jackets streaking through the season – the tiny Class AA school was undefeated. I can hardly ever remember a baseball team, where all things are even, going an entire season undefeated, of ever “running the table” because that’s part of the bigger game.

But Calhoun kept at it, winning the district and then the region. Heck, I even got a schedule and carefully followed the line scores on the Internet. Finally, our scrappy Yellow Jackets went to the Class AA state finals with a 33-0 record but there was a slight hurdle. Calhoun was facing Cook High, a team with a 31-4 record that was led by a pitcher known far and wide – Kaleb Cowart.

Cowart, a flamethrower with a 97-MPH fastball, has since been chosen over 473,000 high school baseball players as Gator-Ade’s National Player of the Year. So in the first of the three-game finals between the Jackets and the Hornets, sure enough, Calhoun went down, 4-0.

Yes, Calhoun battled back, gloriously winning the state title, but that 35-1 record is further proof that good men must keep a steady hand on the tiller, handle the problems as they come, and move on. Getting mad is only a waste of time and, in almost every instance I can recall, anger only muddles my vision where I can no longer see the quicker way towards a solution.

So while the pelican pictures make me want to cry, and I am immensely disappointed the “machine” in the Gulf happened to break, I’m hardly furious. It’s more my style to instead pray each morning that God will soon send some mortal His blessing of an idea that will finally work.

The BP oil company, which recently reported its losses in the catastrophe had reached over $70 billion, is as undoubtedly as heartsick as umpire Jim Joyce. And I just wish there were more of us who would act like Armando Galarraga when the bad calls and ugly spills come along in life.

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