Jim Caple is a Stand Up Guy
When I wrote this, I didn’t think that I was actually going to hear from anyone. That this would get blown off and I would be left wondering just how, exactly, I wanted to handle the situation. Keep in mind, INPY was mad as hell about this, and I wanted answers. But I really didn’t think that I was going to get any. I figured, what is ESPN really going to say or do? Why the hell would Jim Caple give a crap that I think he stole my stuff?
I stand corrected.
On Friday afternoon while I was in meeting, Jim Caple sent me an email. It was succinct.
I would be happy to talk with you. What is your number?
Later that night while I was out and about I noticed the idiot light on my phone telling me that I had a message. Sure enough, it was him. The guy was making the effort. We didn’t actually get to talk until Saturday afternoon, but when we did, it went rather well.
Jim (as now that we’ve kissed and made up, I can call him Jim) and I spoke for 30-40 minutes. There was small talk about why I have a Boston exchange on my cell phone, that he lives in Seattle, that he IS NOT A SOX FAN AND FINDS THE NATION TO BE MORE ANNOYING THAN YANKEES FANS (At this point I was sure he was buttering me up) …and then we got right in to it.
He assured me that he’d never seen my post before my email to him. When I responded, “Can you see why your article was disconcerting to me?” he said that he could, but that it wasn’t the case. I wasn’t entirely convinced at this point, to be completely honest…and I remained unconvinced until we started actually talking about the Natural.
We came to write our pieces for similar reasons. Mainly the fact that it’s been on a nonstop loop all summer, and it’s the type of movie that any baseball fan and red blooded American is going to get sucked in to watching…and when you see it enough, these things jump out at you. We exchanged quips we’d both obviously had in our heads that didn’t make our respective pieces, talked about other things we noticed in the movie, and about the book…within a few minutes of this, I felt comfortable. And really, it’s not like I was going to sue the guy or anything like that. All I wanted was an explanation.
Jim Caple gave me one, and he gave me a good one. He followed it up with an email that I told him I was going to post.
I’m glad we had a chance to talk (it was enoyable even though you’re a Yankees fan) and that we got things cleared up. As I said on the phone, I never saw your piece on Roy Hobbs, nor your website, before I wrote my column. Please update/correct the posting as soon as you can so that your readers aren’t under the wrong impression. Good luck with your writing and enjoy the postseason.
The funny thing was that after we’d cleared up the issue, we kept talking. About the Sox and Yankees in ’78. About Sports in general and writing. He said that I had a flair for it, and wondered how in the hell I got in to the boring ass line of work I’m in….I gave him my best explanation which really didn’t sound so good as it was coming out of my mouth. It sounded, to be honest, kind of hollow and rehearsed. That’s another topic for another time.
I think the lesson here is that conflict doesn’t have to be ugly. It falls in line with an old sales adage that states “a furious customer is an excellent prospect.” It’s damn near always worked for me, and the reason it does is because conflict can be an amazing conduit for communication. Rather than attacking Jim and ESPN and howling about how the injustice of it all, I chose to listen, talk, and be open to outcomes that I didn’t see coming.
Rather than creating an adversary, I made a friend.
And I’ve got his phone number, so I can crank call him in the middle of the night should something go wrong.
Just kidding, Jim.