On the day after The Blown Call That Rocked The Baseball World, the unlikely man of the hour, Armando Galarraga, awoke after only two hours of sleep with a smile on his unshaven face -- and an absence of malice in his heart toward Michigan's new Public Enemy Number One, umpire Jim Joyce.
"Inside my heart, I don't have any problem," Galarraga said. "He told me, 'I'm sorry,' like 20 times. I don't blame the guy."
After Wednesday night's purloined perfecto, Galarraga watched replays of The Play, both at Comerica Park and again after he got home more times than he could count.
"At first, I don't know, I think maybe he was safe," the Tigers' pitcher admitted. "Then when I went in the clubhouse and see the replay on TV, I say, 'Oh my God! He was out! It's not even close. He was totally out.
"Then, every time I see it, 'Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!' "
When Galarraga finally got home, well after midnight Wednesday night, his phone wouldn't stop ringing. "A lot of reporters call from Venezuela to talk to me," he said.
Galarraga also called his parents.
"They put the game on TV in Venezuela from the seventh to the ninth innings," he explained. "It was on the news, 'Galarraga is pitching a perfect game.'
"My dad, Jose, said to me, 'Son, I'm proud of you. I know you threw a perfect game.' That made me feel good."
Despite Wednesday night's emotional ordeal, Galarraga was one of the first Tigers to arrive at the ballpark Thursday morning. By then, the Tigers public relations department had been inundated with requests for interviews from all over the state and the country.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Galarraga had been the least-celebrated member of the Tigers' starting rotation. Suddenly, everyone wanted to talk to him.
"Now, every time they mention, 'perfect game,' they're going to mention my game," he said.
"In my mind, in my heart, everybody see I throw a perfect game."
"That game is going to be talked about forever," predicted manager Jim Leyland. "It's something people will remember for the rest of the history of baseball. And what's wrong with that?"
Wednesday evening, as Galarraga methodically set the Cleveland Indians down in order, inning after inning, he would return to the Tigers' dugout and sit in the same spot, near the far end, while his teammates batted.
"I put my glove and my hat in the same place beside me, I drank from the same cup of water, I'd kick the dirt off my spikes -- everything the same," he said.
In keeping with baseball tradition, none of his teammates mentioned the fact that he had a n-hitter going.
"Nobody said a word," said Jim Leyland. "But everyone knew what was going on.
"My heart was really pumping. Between innings, I kept going into the bathroom behind the dugout and throwing water on my face."
If smoking was still allowed at Comerica Park, the skipper would have been lighting up Marlboros two at a time.
Like Galarraga, Leyland harbors no grudges against Joyce.
"I got text messages from people, saying, "It's a disgrace,' " Leyland said Thursday. "That made me sick. I don't feel that way. This is one of the most forgiving countries in the world.
"Jim Joyce is one of the class acts. And he has been for a long time. I just don't believe in beating people up like that, especially when they come right out and admit their mistake.
"If he had been defiant or arrogant about it, that would have been different. But the guy was mess after the game, a freakin' mess. And it was sincere."
Long after the game, after Joyce had apologized to Galarraga and the Tigers, Leyland went to the umpires' dressing room to try to console Joyce.
"I said, 'Come on, let's sit down and have a beer,' " Leyland said.
"After two sips, I said, 'Bleep, what am I doing? I don't even drink beer."
Joyce is from Toledo and when the veteran umpire finally composed himself, he drove to his mother's house to spend the night.
"I was going to call him this morning to see if his mom let him in the house," Leyland joked.
Another day. Another game. Time to move on. That's baseball.