I’ve blogged on a few “personal responsibility” issues of late, here and here.

I think the story of Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and Umpire Jim Joyce‘s blown call, costing Mr. Galarraga a perfect game, is a great example of the power of “I’m sorry.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EmEiFgDf5I]

Listening to Mr. Joyce last night I was so moved by his apology. If you haven’t had a chance to LISTEN to it, please take a few moments to do so on the above link. There are no excuses. There is no blaming. There is only acceptance of responsibility, and the enormity of the mistake made and the consequences to Mr. Galarraga.

Really, it is rare for an umpire to speak to the press, let alone discuss a particular call. Mr. Joyce broke down that wall last night.

If we’re looking for the best of what our sports heroes have to offer, I think Jim Joyce will be up there. This man showed our country such honor and grace through the power of “I’m sorry.”

And what about Mr. Galarraga’s response? ‘Duk, over at Yahoo Sports, summed it up perfectly:

Galarraga was nothing but classy in both his onfield response and postgame behavior and, as Joe Posnanski writes, it’s the biggest lesson we should take from the whole episode. Our reward comes in seeing someone perform at the highest level and then having enough presence of mind to maintain a proper perspective when something goes against them.

And with the world watching and listening, Detroit Tiger’s Coach Jim Leyland maintained the decorum with his response.

And now we wait.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is contemplating overruling the call by invoking “in the best interest of the game” rule. There are those arguing for and against, and we’ll know in a few hours which way the commissioner will act. (Update: Selig blew perfect chance to be leader for once)

However, I cannot believe that if Mr. Galarraga took to his Twitter account in complaint; if the players had rushed the umpire in a hoodlum like mob; if Mr. Leyland had screamed and screeched his way through the press conference; if Mr. Joyce had not broken the code of silence of umpires, publicly admitted his error, and personally and humbly apologized with full understanding of the consequences of his HUMAN error, that Mr. Selig would even consider overruling the call.

Mr. Joyce should have woken up to headlines of being the most hated man in baseball. Yet, his grace has won us all over. Who amongst us hasn’t made a mistake, an error that affected someone else?

I hope that “in the best interest of the game,” but really, in the best interst of a nation in dire need of positive examples from our sports stars, Mr. Selig makes the call and gives Mr. Galarraga his perfect game.

So what does this have to do with legal marketing? Only that we are all human. We all have pride. We all make mistakes. It is so common (yes I have done this myself) when we voice a complaint, and then learn we were wrong, to either walk away, ignore it, continue to hold our position, push the blame on someone else. How often have you honestly humbled yourself and apologized when wrong? It’s so hard to do, especially once the mistake reaches a public level.

However, I hope we all learn from Mssrs. Galarraga, Joyce and Leyland that while there might not be any crying in baseball, there can certainly be forgiveness, understanding, compassion and some heroes we can point to and say “that’s how you handle a situation like that.”

  • Heather,

    Great post! This was a terrific and thoughtful extrapolation from last night’s events. Your post inspired me to write a piece on a similar subject. You are welcome to check it out (at the url above) and let me know where I messed up!

    Alan

  • I used to be one of those people who would just gloss over a mistake and hope no one noticed it and soon forgot about it if they did see it. But now I’m a big believer in “I’m sorry.” In fact, I had to apologize just this week – I’ve been dealing with a less-than-detail-oriented hotel events person who I thought had put us in the wrong room for something after me repeatedly asking her to change it (because this had happened with a couple of other details). She pointed out that I had, in fact, asked her to put us in the room she indicated. I wrote back and said “You’re right, I’m sorry.” I think taking responsibility without blame is professional and helps relationships move forward, both personal and professionals ones. Great reminder!