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Imperfect Leadership

Armando Galarraga had retired twenty-six straight batters and was a single out away from pitching a perfect game. You undoubtedly know what happened next. Umpire Jim Joyce called a clearly out runner safe at first base, denying Galarraga his rightful place in baseball history. Tyler Kepner of The New York Times called it "easily the most egregious blown call in baseball over the last 25 years." After watching a replay later, Joyce admitted his mistake and apologized to Galarraga.

On the following day, after morning news programs reported the incident, a growing number of disconcerted Americans, feeling deprived of something special in their own sense, waited to see if a leader would step forward to make things right. That person, as it turns out, would have been Bud Selig. As Major League Baseball commissioner, Selig alone possesses the power to overturn rulings on the field.

Selig said no.

In the greater scheme of things, of course, this was just a baseball game. And while perfect games are historically rare (only twenty in MLB's entire history), Galarraga's would have been the third this year. But to a nation increasingly weary from stories about corporate corruption, government bailouts, and oil spills, Selig's refusal to overrule Joyce's call was another leadership disappointment in a long list of recent ones.

After all, if baseball's top boss won't correct a blatant injustice in America's favorite pastime, what chance do we have of finding someone who will restore our faith in business leaders anytime soon?

While we should all be inspired by the graciousness both Galarraga and Joyce displayed following the episode, there is still a lingering letdown: another leader struck out in the moment of truth.

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As leaders we need to be inspired by Gallaraga's humility and the courage Joyce displayed on the day following the game- and not let ourselves get caught up on Selig's lack of "Vital Integrity"!

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