Honesty…IS a lonely word

“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the (stuff) out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game.” Jim Joyce

By now you’ve all seen, heard, downloaded the perfect imperfection that was Armando Galaragga’s pitching effort on June 2.  For those who haven’t, a quick recap. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Indians batter Jason Donald grounded a ball to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.  Bang bang play, Galarraga covers… PERFECT GAME! Not.

Fox Sports Detroit

Umpire Jim Joyce ruled that Donald beat the throw. I was sitting in my booth at Coca-Cola Field during a rain delay of the Buffalo Bisons-Syracuse Chiefs game. Those gathered around the TV were stunned at what we saw.  Donald was clearly out and Galarraga should be celebrating baseball imortality.

Joyce admitted after the game that he blew the call.  And here’s where my PR side kicked in.  The fact that Joyce went back a reviewed his actions and then faced the music was very smart.  In PR, we do the very, very best to be honest, open, and transparent.  Sometimes, in working to be honest, we inadvertently make a mistake.

Here’s what you do.  Correct it. NOW. That’s what Jim Joyce did.  He realized his mistake, checked it out, then went before the media to say he was wrong.

The problem is that honesty isn’t exactly prevalent lately. We’ve got Toyota and BP hiding behind possible false statements. We are well aware of how truthful some athletes have been about their on and off the field actions.  How hard is it to be honest about what you’ve done wrong? Apparently very hard.

In Joyce’s case, he manned up and took his lumps.  It was a terrible mistake, in the moment.  Overall, he’ll be more likely remembered for the mistake instead of the honesty he showed afterwards.  That’s the shameful part.

I’d rather see him be given a pat on the back for his honesty, not a kick in the pants for the missed call.

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About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on June 3, 2010, in Hot Topic, Public Relations, Social Media, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. There are way too many examples for our children to see of the “dishonest” than the “honest,” not to mention Galarraga’s public grace and dignity in the face of what must have been a crushing disappointment.

    And, as my Tigers fan husband said, “it WOULD have to happen to the Tigers.” :-)

    • Glad you brought up Armando Galarraga’s actions. He just smiled and moved on. I think all involved will be remembered for the event. Their actions should rise about the fact that Galarraga didn’t get the perfect game.

  2. This is a FANTASTIC topic and post. And how funny — my PR team was talking about this very incident at our personal development luncheon today! We were discussing that every action we take means something — everything we do matters. And that umpire’s decision had a huge effect on another person. But the fact that he owned up to his mistake had an even greater effect. I’m so glad you wrote about this :)

    Thanks for another great post!

    • It’s inspirational… at least to me. We can all be better people by just owning up to a mistake. I think the world forgives more that we think. Especially the sports world.

      Thank YOU for the comment! :)

  3. Well done post and a great point by you. The fact that Joyce took the blame was overlooked in much of the coverage. Joyce deserves much credit for stepping up and doing / saying the right thing. He can’t take back the mistake, but he certainly didn’t make it worse with his post-call actions.

    Thanks for the post it was a good read.
    -Paul

    • Thanks for your comments, Paul. We see many umps get combative during certain situations. I think Joyce should be used as an example of how umps should handle themselves. I was impressed.

  4. Great post! With the exception of some crazed fans (including me for a few minutes!), I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the class & dignity shown by all the parties involved in this historic mishap. Jim Joyce didn’t run and hide from his bad call, he confronted it head on and apologized. He even went to work the next day when most of us would’ve preferred to hide under the covers (he was offered the day off). And, besides a few heated comments in the heat of the moment, all we’ve heard from Jim Leyland, Galarraga and the Tigers is that a good man (and ump) made a bad mistake, as we all do, and we need to move on. Because it’s so easy to forget sometimes, the real life example/reminder helps: honesty and humanity trumps all!

    • Matt,

      I couldn’t have said it better. You are in Detroit… was the city’s reaction mostly positive the day after? GM came up big too. Great PR move by them.

      Jason

      • Jason – It might’ve taken a day-and-a-half (wink), but yes, people fed off the reaction of Galarraga, the Tigers and Joyce and came to accept the reality. It’s still a hot topic of conversation, but in general, the anger has subsided. GREAT gesture by GM…wish MLB would learn from GM and find a way to “honor” Galarraga’s feat.

  5. It’s too bad that our society do not care about patting people on the back when someone apologizes right away for a mistake, whether it’s misjudging a call on the field of play, saying something, or doing something wrong.

    Honesty has become extinct to many because we’re become jaded and desensitized to bad behavior and accepting it.

    Jim Joyce did the right thing, or I should say, did what everyone should do, and yet some members in the sports media continue to lump him in a group of bad umpires who only thrives on their 15 minutes of fame.

    I feel that the multitude of “weak” or “contrived” apologies being made not just by Toyota and BP, but also by public figures in entertainment, politics, and other areas, have made it harder for us to accept a genuine apology from a guy like Joyce.

  6. Chris Ehrlich

    Jason,

    Great PR tie-in and post.

    Was glad to see this/your tweets as a voice of reason as the mob and sports reporters went after Joyce.

    Short of getting into a debate about instant replay in MLB, there are two clear facts about the incident that seem to matter.

    Joyce is human – and like all humans and machines after them – he’ll miss calls. It’s Crazytown to think that he or any other ump won’t blow it from time to time.

    All I know from the fallout is that Joyce stepped up in a rare way. The comparison you draw to PR and everyday life is on the mark. Joyce, and the pitcher, Galaragga, displayed the sort of leadership, poise and humility that it would seem all of us can respect and emulate in some way.

    -Chris Ehrlich

  7. Jason,

    Great PR tie-in and post.

    Was glad to see this/your tweets as a voice of reason as the mob and sports reporters went after Joyce.

    Short of getting into a debate about instant replay in MLB, there are two clear facts about the incident that seem to matter.

    Joyce is human – and like all humans and machines after them – he’ll miss calls. It’s Crazytown to think that he or any other ump won’t blow it from time to time.

    All I know from the fallout is that Joyce stepped up in a rare way. The comparison you draw to PR and everyday life is on the mark. Joyce, and the pitcher, Galaragga, displayed the sort of leadership, poise and humility that it would seem all of us can respect and emulate in some way.

    -Chris Ehrlich

    • Chris,

      Thanks so much for contributing! These days, I think instead of being quick to throw someone under the bus, we take a second and show that we all are human. Mistakes happen. And let’s be honest, this is sports.

      Much like in PR, we need to look at the big picture. Joyce showed everything we ask for in our PR industry. Humility and honesty.

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