Pithy quote:

                   If I were a fan, I’d boo me too…

 

The baseball season, at least for the Atlanta Braves, is over, sadly over – but there’s a message that lingers on.

 

Case in point, Dan Uggla, the multi-million dollar man who couldn’t bat his weight for the first few months of the season.  Counted on to be the long baller and the .260 hitter he’d always been, Uggla struggled mightily.  The pithy quote from Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench was applicable: “Slumps are like a soft bed. They’re easy to get into and hard to get out of.”

 

Most every big leaguer goes through a slump, but not for nearly four months. The unwritten rule of fandom is the higher the salary, the closer the scrutiny. And, as was to be expected, some fans got on him.  They paid their money and they were exercising their right to pass judgment on General Manager Frank Wren’s biggest decision.  Boos could be heard at the park, frustration could be heard on  sports talk radio.

 

So what did Uggla do? Break bats? Blame playing for a new manager?  Feign minor injury?  Avoid the media and their questions? Did Uggla grumble and grouse?  No, in the vernacular, he “manned up.”  Baseball executive Paul Richards had a salient snippet to the point a few years back that applies not only to the business of baseball, but to business as a whole. “Trust your gut,” said Richards, “don’t cover your butt; they pay you to do what is right.”

 

The season was half over, Manager Fredi Gonzalez could have swallowed hard and asked Uggla to work it out in the minors; the Braves were in a race to make the playoffs. Maybe General Manager Wren opposed it – we’ll never know because Gonzalez did what was right.

 

Uggla could taken his money, moped and written 2011 off as a bad year. We know  he didn’t; he stuck with it – ultimately showing fans what they’d paid to see. “If I were a fan,” said Uggla in a June radio interview, I’d be booing me too.” Whoa, vulnerability and accountability.  By season’s premature end,  the  scrappy second baseman who had remained accessible to reporters throughout, had raised his average nearly 100 points, ending with a .233 batting average and 36 home runs – more home runs than the 31 year old  had ever before hit in the majors.

 

What happens at your place when someone fails to meet expectations? Do they get top level management’s support?  Do they grumble, point fingers, hide from accountability, or do they accept responsibility and “man up” Dan Uggla style?