Posted tagged ‘baseball’

How NOT to Apologize

January 14, 2010

Earlier this week, Mark McGwire “came clean” on his use of steroids. Among the analyses that I read, one noted how major league baseball was getting quite good at learning how to apologize. It’s even become somewhat of a formula.

First, you issue a press release. Then you arrange a sitdown interview with a favorably inclined organization such as MLB Network – although you should have an accomplish journalist interview you. After that, make yourself available to some media outlets to answer questions. When that is all complete, have a couple of interested parties laud you for stepping forwrad. Presto! You’re done and everyone will allow you to move on with your life.

Only problem — the public is not responding favorably at all — which leads us to thinking about why this is so.

A closer examination of McGwire’s apology statement offers some lessons for all of us in how to apologize.

  1. “Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago.” Apologize because it is the right thing to do not because you are afraid of the consequences. Try not to make your apology self serving. Sincerity and motivation are important.
  2. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.” Got it…shame on the era for forcing me to take steroids. Take responsibility.
  3. “During the mid-90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years. Don’t load up your apology with statistics. It makes it look like the statement was written by a third party and not you.
  4. I experienced a lot of injuries, including a rib cage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a stress fracture of the left heel, and a torn right heel muscle. It was definitely a miserable bunch of years and I told myself that steroids could help me recover faster. I thought they would help me heal and prevent injuries too.” Alot of other players were hurt and they chose to stay within the rules. Eliminate the rationalization. Don’t make excuses.
  5. I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids.” Still, Mark, everyone seems to think that steroids makes players better hitters. Don’t minimize or ignore the impact of your transgression.
  6. “Baseball is really different now – it’s been cleaned up. The Commissioner and the Players Association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I’m glad they did.” Hard to tell if you are glad they cleaned it up or glad that they waited until you left the game. Don’t kiss up.

Here’s perhaps a more effective apology built on acknowledging, apologizing and doing something constructive about it.

I cheated. I let you down. I was wrong. I’m really sorry.

And here’s what I’m going to do about it. I’m going to speak to high school and college kids and pour my own money into getting kids to know cheating is wrong and steroids are dangerous.

It’s the least I can do…and I’m open to any other suggestions you might have as to how I can make amends for what I have done.

Now that would be an apology…


Baseball, Pennant Races, the Mets and Strategy

August 28, 2008

Besides strategy, one of my personal passions is baseball. Boy, do I love watching a good baseball game.

I think that is because there is an element of strategy and tactics wrapped up in every single game. In fact, if you spend some time thinking about it, you would be surprised at how complementary baseball and strategy truly are to one another.

Like strategy, a baseball team measures its success by how it ranks relative to its industry. Is it in first place or the middle of the pack?

Understanding the competition and how it will react to various scenarios is also very evident in our national pastime. And baseball teams, to be successful, must have a healthy supply chain (aka farm system) and excel at talent management and growth. Of course, it must have solid management who can communicate effectively internally and externally.

Baseball teams must have a management philosophy, or a set of operating principles on how it will treat teammates and the opposition, and even the fans. And of course, is there any other sport or business, for that matter, that has quite the same amount of statistical success measures.

On the business side, it must be very clear who its customers are, what customer experience they truly value and what makes them want to return time and again. And with salary caps in place, teams most certainly must know how to budget.

Which brings us to the National League East…

Two nights ago, the New York Mets, my favorite team, went to battle against their chief rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. As I watched a seven run lead begin to evaporate, my mind shifted to the concept of scenario planning. The Mets bullpen, its Achilles heel all season, was unraveling.

Thoughts then turned to scenario planning and the concept of seasonality. Hmm…with September just four days away and the ability to call up fifteen additional player reinforcements from the minor leagues, would it have not made sense to bring in a powerful starting pitcher to nail down a victory.

Clearly, not something one would be likely to consider in the heat of battle, but with advance planning and a better understanding of seasonality, it sure would have represented a very interesting option, don’t you think?


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