Baseball is a game that reveals our flaws. Despite all the changes to the game (both rules and analytics), performance is still measured by simple terms — runs, hits and errors.

Yes, errors. Baseball is a perfect game played by imperfect people, and on occasion, players, managers, and umpires, are subject to make mistakes that they regret.

That is Dan Bellino’s reality this weekend. Bellino is the Major League Baseball umpire who was caught on video between innings provoking Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner into a verbal confrontation and ultimately an ejection.

I witnessed the incident live and was at first completely perplexed by Bellino’s odd behavior. He stopped Bumgarner on the way to the dugout for what initially appeared to be one of those goofy foreign-substance “spot checks.” But Bellino never took his eyes off Bumgarner, waiting for an already-angry Dbacks pitcher to look at him. Bellino was just begging for a reason to eject Bumgarner from the game.

When Bumgarner finished chirping in the direction of the home plate umpire over a couple missed calls, he turned his attention to Bellino and — boom — the match was lit (see the video below).

If you’ve seen the footage, you know Bellino was at fault. Bellino knew it too. But more importantly, let’s step back for a moment and consider what I said at the beginning. Bellino made an error in judgment and character, and what did he do? He owned it and said so publicly, apologizing for his behavior.

“When I began my MLB career almost 15 years ago, I received some good advice. I was told to umpire every game as if my children were sitting in the front row. I fell short of those expectations this week. While I can’t go back and change what happened, I take full accountability. I will learn from this incident, and I sincerely apologize.”

Bellino responded with humility. He held himself accountable, apologized, and asked for forgiveness. What more can you ask for?

It’s a lesson we can all learn from and should appreciate. How many times have you seen (or heard) an umpire walk back a call, or his actions on the field? Almost never.

Look, I am not the morality police here. I have made my fair share of mistakes in life. The only wisdom I can offer is experience. My greatest personal lessons all come from my mistakes, my failures, my regret-filled pain.

When someone – a ballplayer, an umpire, a friend, a colleague, etc. — makes a poor choice of character, maybe this is a lesson we can incorporate in our own lives. We can make a snap judgment, or we can take a deep breathe and pause, then ask ourselves — as honestly as we can — How would I have responded? How have I responded to others when I am knowingly guilty of making a poor choice?

Is tapping in a righteous tweet and hitting send your best response? It’s not always mine. I am learning that if I am emotionally involved or I don’t know the facts, I should just hold my tongue (or my social media response) until I can offer something constructive.

No player (or umpire) wants to make an error. That’s what makes practice, concentration, and focus so valuable. Preparation allows great talent to hone raw skills and minimize the potential for errors. Even then, we all still make mistakes. To err is human; to forgive is divine,” wrote English poet Alexander Pope.

We could all use a little grace.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

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About the author

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

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