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Imperfection Remembered

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C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

The pursuit of innovation perfection is a team endeavor. It takes coordination. It takes collaboration. It takes practice. Yet even if you and your team do every right, sometimes your efforts still don't reach this pinnacle. Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. Sometimes this is for the better.

Of the 20 perfect games pitched in Major League Baseball history, I can name three of them without looking at a list ' Cy Young 1904, Don Larsen 1956, and Sandy Koufax 1965. I remember these three (and not the other 17) because Cy Young and Sandy Koufax are simply two of the great pitchers of all time, and Don Larsen pitched his in a World Series. And even though there were two perfect games pitched just this season, I struggle to recall even the names of these pitchers (Dallas Braden of the A's and Roy Halladay of the Phillies if you're wondering).

A perfect game in baseball is a fantastic achievement. No doubt about it. But even perfection, aside from those intimately involved in it, isn't always memorable.

If you live outside the United States or if you've deliberately shielded yourself from all things sports ' perhaps because you believe (as Karl Marx did of religion) that sports is the 'opium of the people' ' you probably heard about the blown call on the final play of Armando Galarraga's (Detroit Tigers) near perfect game on June 2, 2010. On what should have been the final out of a perfect game, first base umpire Jim Joyce called Cleveland Indian's shortstop Jason Donald safe at first base. It was a call that Jim Joyce should have made correctly. And 99 out of 100 times he would have. But for some reason, not that day. Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control.

Perfection was lost, but imperfection will be remembered.

The way Armando Galarraga (and for that matter umpire Jim Joyce) handled the blown call in the immediate aftermath and days following the game is worth high praise. It was a textbook demonstration in sportsmanship and class. The one-hitter on June 2, 2010 (which is what Galarraga's game will go down as in the baseball history books) is more memorable for its 'imperfection' than it ever would have been if it had actually been 'perfect'.

Now I will remember four - Cy Young 1904, Don Larsen 1956, Sandy Koufax 1965, and Armando Galarraga's near perfect game in 2010.

As innovators keep striving for perfection. But remember this ' sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. Sometimes this is for the better. Your products and services don't need to be perfect. They need to be memorable. They need to be worth talking about long after the moment is over.

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