Last night as my wife was driving me and our children home from the Colonnade, an Atlanta landmark restaurant for the past 85 years, one of our children noticed Dan Ugggla sitting on the outside patio of a neighborhood bar/restaurant. Our son, an avid MLB baseball fan, and a rather accomplished little ball player himself, seems to know the faces of many MLB players, especially the Atlanta Braves.
The first time he noticed Mr. Uggla outside of the “Ted” was at a Japanese restaurant in Vinings on Memorial Day. Mr. Uggla sat across from my family at the same grill, along with his 2 children and a lady friend. He wore his “Air Jordan” baseball cap backwards, and appeared to be a loving father with his 2 children on a typical night out. We didn’t bother him that night as I preferred for him to bother me, if he had recognized me the same way.
But last night was a little different…..
When our 12 year old son noticed Mr. Uggla sitting on the patio outside at this local bar/restaurant, he had his same “Air Jordan” baseball cap turned around backwards, ……and he was alone……so I rolled down the window as we were stopped at the traffic light, and I hollered, “hey (Dan) Uggla”, and then he looked over at us and waved…….as he blew the cigarette smoke from his mouth in a pucker motion as if he was a rookie smoker.
By this time, the talk in our car from our children was astonishing, they were wondering why a professional athlete was smoking.
I then hollered to Mr. Uggla, “you smoking?”, he looked again at our car, with both front and rear passenger windows down and a backseat full of kids visible; he truthfully nodded with, perhaps a bit of embarrassment.
I couldn’t help myself, so I said, “c’mon, in front of kids?”, again he truthfully nodded and waived with his cigarette in hand; as the traffic light turned green, we slowly drove away.
I can’t help but be judgemental about a professional athlete, who makes a living by fan approval, smoking in public, especially where kids can view this role model. I can’t help but remember the multitude of errors that this Atlanta Braves All Star second baseman has made, including his day dreaming one where he had just forgotten to cover second base when a ball was hit to the shortstop a couple of months ago. My daughter reminded me of that one when she asked, “Is that the guy who was day dreaming and forgot to cover second base when the shortstop threw it to second base and nobody was there?”
“That’s him,” I said. As my wife turned the radio volume lower, I seized this learning opportunity for our children and spat out my favorite quote…….
“When a baseball player makes an error, it goes into the record and is published.
How many of us could stand this sort of daily scrutiny or are willing to admit an error before we are called on it?
Most of us are protective and defensive, from the chiefs of staff, to the janitor’s assistant.
Our aim is not to do right, so much as it is not to be perceived as doing wrong.
Yet all of the decisive people in the world have made waves, and sometimes they have been swamped by them.
But no waves, no progress, and the only way to avoid mistakes is to be totally passive, which is to say dead.
You won’t get much blame that way, nor will you get anything else.”