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Armando Galarraga comes up short of SI honor

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I don't know if they announce who finished in second place in the Sports Illustrated Man of the Year honors, but it's easy to imagine it was Armando Galarraga. In Michigan, our sports heroes seem to be stuck in a period of being good, but not quite good enough.

The Red Wings failed to repeat as Stanley Cup champions when they fell a victory short in 2008. Michigan State finished runners up in college basketball that same year after being the talk of Ford Field. (And more recently, the Big Ten football tri-champ with the toughest schedule will likely be left out of a BCS Bowl bid). The Tigers finished a game short of a division title two seasons ago. Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP voting this month.

And of course, you know all about Armando Galarraga, who was not only good but great while umpire Jim Joyce was not good enough, costing Galarraga his rightful perfect game.

So it should surprise nobody when SI named Drew Brees the Sportsman of the Year, while Galarraga had to accept that just being nominated was honor enough.

Ah, but what a nomination, written by Sports Illustrated's best writer, Joe Posnanski.

Joyce would handle his mistake with great dignity. But the real hero was Galarraga. He did not argue with Joyce on the field. He just sort of smiled. He retired the next batter, Trevor Crowe, and finished off the game as a one-hitter (making this, in the minds of many, the first 28-out perfect game in baseball history). And then he went into the clubhouse and told reporters that he was very proud of the way he pitched. When asked about Joyce immediately afterward, he said that Joyce should not worry about it, that everybody makes mistakes.

I feel sure that long after I have forgotten the details of the Braden perfect game and the Halladay perfect game, I will remember Armando Galarraga's grace in the face of a baseball injustice.

I think Galarraga will be alright.

And you know what? We'll be alright, too. We're lucky our teams are so competitive on a nightly basis -- well, other than those football teams in southeast Michigan anyway -- and it's only a matter of time before we get that payoff we so crave.