Sunday, June 6, 2010

Teachable Moments from an Imperfect Game

In reviewing the recent controversy about the almost perfect game of this past week, we should remember that individual baseball games are arbitrary to a greater degree than most sports contests, and this is part of their charm. Baseball uses the replay in very limited circumstances, and to add more replays would interfere with the timeless flow and simple basic human nature of the game. The Commissioner though cloudy in his statement got the end result right--under current rules, this is a human judgment call made in "real time."

We have humans on the field who do the best they can to make the call without much technological apparatus that would stop everything to try to make it perfect. This is another place where "perfect is the enemy of the good." We have too much technical regimen and cheap popular science introduced into baseball through the noisy electronic scoreboards that try to keep everyone entertained and controlled every minute based no doubt on surveys, focus groups, and scientific analysis of the results.

What should not be lost in all of this is the wonderful way in which the player, the umpire, the manager, and even the fans handled this. They did not need surveys, focus groups or science to reach the right way of addressing this situation. Taking responsibility for a mistake without defensiveness, forgiving the person who made the mistake, and cheering all of the participants and their reactions is a great lesson for children of all ages, politicians, oil and other corporate executives, accountants, Wall Street investment bankers, lawyers, and potential litigants among others. Whether to change the underlying call is much less important, and would almost ruin this important teaching and learning moment. We are human, there are rules, we make mistakes, and this is a moment of people rising to the occasion and displaying the best possible human nature, judgment, and emotion after a mistake.

I will now quietly get off my soapbox, and apologize if I overreacted. Thank you for your attention.