He Did Not Say a Word

I received this from recent graduate and soon-to-be-pastor Ryan Tinetti. We probably have some kind of policy about former student/not-yet-pastors putting something on the site, but this was too good to keep to myself.

by Ryan Tinetti

Armando Galarraga, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, threw a perfect game last night. Sort of.

Umpire Jim Joyce botched the call that would have ended the game and cemented Galarraga’s place in baseball lore, and all was lost. A routine grounder between first and second base was fielded flawlessly by first baseman Miguel Cabrera, ranging to his right, who fired a strike to Galarraga, covering the bag. The pitcher tapped the base, a full half-step before Cleveland Indians’ hitter Jason Donaldson made it. Perfection…right? Galarraga began to celebrate–when he looked over in disbelief at Joyce, who had emphatically signaled “safe.” After a momentary hesitation, with a wry smile and a shrug, Galarraga sauntered back to the mound. The game ended after the next batter grounded out to third.

Admitting the gaff after viewing the replay later, Joyce commended the long-suffering Tigers’ pitcher: “I just cost that kid a perfect game…I would’ve been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me.” Instead, Galarraga grinned and bore it. Unjustly, this man of Perfection had been undone, and he did not speak a word of protest–he simply endured his fate. In so doing, Galarraga showed himself profoundly Christlike. His action recalled the sinless Son of God, who was led like a lamb to the slaughter and “opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53.7).

What shall we say of these things? That “too err is human,” as several (including Tigers’ coach, Jim Leyland) have already apologetically averred? That life just ain’t fair? You can go that route, but it’s decidedly unsatisfying. It’s an explanation, but not a justification. No–I’m calling BS. What we want is justice. We want Armando Galarraga to get his true moment in the sun, his arms lifted high, tears streaming down his face as his kids come to his side and the photos flash. We want the wrongs righted, because if nothing else in this world is fair, at least the national pastime should be an oasis of righteousness.

In the grand scope of things, of course, it’s just baseball. Even if he did get his perfect game, Armando Galarraga would be at best a blip in history–a rather narrow slice of history at that. But it isn’t just this game, and it isn’t just a no-name, back of the rotation pitcher getting robbed off his remarkable athletic feat. It’s the fact that we live in a world run amok, where the good guys get the shaft and the bad get the goods. It’s the fact that we know, deep in our gut, that the world is wrong and needs to be put right.

Which is the other reason why Armando Galarraga has me thinking of Jesus. The silent, sinless Lamb of God got the last word. He was delivered up for the injustice and unrighteousness of the world, His “perfect game” seemingly snuffed out. But that’s not where the story ends. He was raised for our justification, our rectification–ours, and all God’s world. He rose to put things right.

I do not know if Armando Galarraga is a Christian, but the poise and equanimity he displayed in the face of profound injustice nevertheless evoked the Christ. And because of that One, on the Last Day, when all wrongs are righted in a new creation wherein righteousness dwells–because of Him, if Galarraga should indeed rise with the just, I have a hunch that just maybe the God of justice will treat him to a true scorecard, which reads: 27 up, 27 down.





7 responses to “He Did Not Say a Word”

  1. Jason Schockman Avatar

    Tinetti – Baseball – Jesus. knowing you ryan, I am not in the least shocked to see your brilliant commentary on true Perfection. Good work man, and God’s richest blessings in Christ be with you as your ministry unfolds.

  2. Cindy Woodward Avatar
    Cindy Woodward

    Thanks, Ryan.

  3. Peter Hoft Avatar
    Peter Hoft

    Great commentary. Thank you!

  4. Mary Northend Avatar
    Mary Northend

    Bill and I attended 2 different churches that day and both pastors used the “almost perfect pitch” as a sermon illustration. I think Galaragga brought back the meaning of “good sportsmanship.” I enjoyed your commentary!

  5. Mark Squire Avatar
    Mark Squire

    Good thing Bud Selig isn’t God. Just imagine…”We will not be reviewing the death of Jesus to grant him a perfect life, without death, and raise him from the dead. No, ‘the human element’ must remain unadulterated. The result – death – is final.” Hehe.

  6. Kate Badon Avatar
    Kate Badon

    Rev. Tinetti:

    This writing is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. I am not a avid sports fan, but your parallel of Galarraga’s response to unfairness with Jesus’ destiny is awesome. As my new Pastor, I am very grateful you have been placed in my church.

  7. Concordia Theology » Peter Rollins’ “Insurrection” Avatar

    […] Rev. Ryan Tinetti is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Seaside, CA. He previously contributed to concordiatheology.org with a reflection on a near-perfect pitcher.  […]

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