In last night’s National League Wild Card game, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2. It wasn’t that close. An inspired Pittsburgh club overwhelmed a listless Cincinnati team from the outset.
After the game, the customary player interviews ensued, but one interview was anything but routine. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips caused an uproar with his postgame comments, stating clearly that his team “choked.” He emphasized his lack of concern over how his teammates felt about his comments…”I don’t care.” Only when pressed by a reporter about the inflammatory nature of his words did he change his tune and put the focus on his own performance. “I choked,” the story then became.
Here are four lessons I take away from this.
1. It’s best to speak honestly, but not for effect. Phillips was honest. He thought the Reds choked. Fair enough. But his “I don’t care” attitude toward his teammates was for effect, to make it appear as if he was trying to inspire or lead them. Inspiration and leadership rarely come from inflammatory comments. Such things come from earned respect and admiration.
2. Stand by what you say, and don’t back up…but if you do back up, admit that you’re backing up. Phillips altered his statement when he realized what he had said. I give him that. But he never admitted he was wrong in calling out his teammates. Instead, he pretended he had been talking only about himself all along, effectively ignoring what he said at first. If you’re going to say it, be willing to stand by it. If what you said was wrong, admit it, apologize for it, and move on.
3. One person cannot claim credit for winning or losing a baseball game. In an effort to dodge the firestorm raised by his previous comments, Phillips blamed the loss completely on himself. In so doing, he attempted to take ownership for his performance, which is the responsible thing to do. However, in my mind, he simply put himself back as the center of attention. People who applaud him for pinning the loss on himself forget that one player means very little in baseball. By blaming himself, he again made the team about him.
4. Instead of blaming your team or yourself, give some credit to the other guys. The Reds looked lost last night. The guy who stole their map was Pirates’ pitcher Francisco Liriano. Sometimes, it’s best to admit that the other team was just better.
Agree? Disagree? I’d love your thoughts. Post a comment on the blog, Twitter, or Facebook.