It's just not cricket
A bad call by an umpire has become a lesson in good sportsmanship that Washington could do well to emulate, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
As far as I understand it, which is not very much, the Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga should have had a perfect game, not only getting all his Cleveland Indians opponents out but without any one of them even reaching a base.
But the umpire made a bad ruling which deprived him of this triumph. It's a big deal: there have only been 20 perfect games in more than 100 years of Major League Baseball.
This article is a superb take on the emotion after the game, even if the details of the play are written in a language that completely eludes me. But the point is, the umpire was kicking himself for the mistake, apologised and the apology was accepted with good grace.
About to walk out of the room after his regular briefing, Robert Gibbs was asked a question about the match and came back to the podium.
Joking that he was speaking with the full weight of the federal government, he said he hoped that the pitcher would be awarded a perfect game by the baseball authorities. When the assembled hacks, obviously kept up-to-date on their blackberries and iPhones, chorused that that wasn't going to happen, he joked again - that he'd seek an executive order.
His next remarks were unexpectedly serious. He reflected he had a six-year-old who had just started playing baseball and that this was an example both to seasoned fans and to children like his son.
"To watch an umpire take responsibility, to watch a pitcher do what he did, that type of sportsmanship exhibited was tremendously heartening."
He continued: "Somebody made a mistake, somebody accepted that apology. It's a good lesson for baseball, perhaps a good lesson in Washington."
"It's just not cricket" is a common, if old-fashioned, English expression for something being unfair, but perhaps Galarraga's graciousness should become a new byword for accepting the unfairness of life.
Play up, and play the game, chaps, and football (soccer) players take note.