The Milwaukee Brewers accomplished a rare feat yesterday – they won. And, they did so in record-breaking fashion by going 17 innings at Miller Park to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 on a walk-off homer by Martin Maldonado.

While fans know the names of such key players as Brewer’s Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez, and might even have heard of Arizona’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia – I want to introduce you to four names of men without whom yesterday’s game never would have happened.

Ryan Blakney, Hunter Wendelstedt, Bob Davidson, Ben May – These are the “men in blue.”

These umpires “played” a 17-inning game without the chance to sit down when their “side” batted; without the opportunity to easily slip away for a restroom break; without the option of being replaced late in the game as fatigue might have set in.

No one remembers the umpires. Perhaps if a blown call dramatically changes the outcome of an important game (see Don Denkinger 1985 World Series).

But yesterday’s crew deserves a “shout out” for going the distance.

Ryan Blakney stood behind home plate for a game that lasted almost six hours. He worked in front of more than 32,000 fans at the game and a television audience that had the benefit of instant replay to monitor his work.

Imagine what his workday must have been like. He called balls and strikes for 528 pitches. That means he had to bend over and focus on about 90 pitches an hour for almost six straight hours.

At Vistelar, we train contact professionals, including referees and umpires, in the art of “Verbal Defense and Influence.” We train them how to be cool under pressure and to treat others with dignity by showing them respect.

At the heart of our lessons is the idea that one should respond to conflict when it occurs and not react. Nowhere is this challenge greater than in the heat of a major league sporting event with thousands of people sitting on the sidelines watching while players are expecting perfection on every pitch called.

Were mistakes made by the umpire crew yesterday at Miller Park during the 17-inning marathon? I’d assume some were made. But, it appears that the “Men In Blue” committed no major errors – and says a lot about the team nobody ever cheers for.

Nice job Ryan – Hunter – Bob – Ben – It seems to me that someone needed to call you out for a great day “at the office.”

Listening Is Worth Celebrating

Posted on June 1, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s listening tip: Celebrate your ability to hear and listen closely to someone today. 6-1-15

What a gift it is to have our senses working well. Hearing someone’s story is indeed worth celebrating. The celebration is two-fold — that you can hear and that you can help another person feel validated by acknowledging a story that is part of his/her life’s journey.

The Choice of Positive Thinking

Posted on May 29, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s Listening Tip: Think positively. Hear promise. Embrace each day. 5-29-15

We all have a choice each day. Thinking positively is a choice that is harder for us on some days than others — but it is always within our grasp. Because tomorrow is promised to no one, holding off on that positive thought might mean that you run out of time and opportunities to see what is good and right in front of you. I wish I could tell you that I am expert at this…lately, not so much. But this advice is written for all of us. Take a chance on being positive today for yourself and your loved ones. The world will be a better place because of your positive view of it.

Letting Others Know They Matter

Posted on May 28, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s listening tip: Hear the kind wishes from others when they come your way and let everyone who offers them know how much they mean to you. 5-28-15

People don’t always realize how well their words are received. In fact, many people have no idea how much of a positive impact they are having on the world. When someone says something that makes you feel good or re-inforces a positive aspect of your life, take a minute to tell them. Help others feel validated and you’ll in turn feel validated yourself.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Posted on May 20, 2015
Ben Merens

Conflict happens. We all know this. But it can quickly be calmed by a simple, kind response.

At a recent men’s league softball game I played in, a young man started hurling F-bombs when he was thrown out at first and the first baseman called him out along with the umpire.

As it turns out, the first baseman batted first as his team came off the field and the angry batter was now the catcher.

As the first baseman came to the plate, the catcher started to continue the argument.

The first baseman simply put both hands up in a stop sign and said, “I’m sorry. I meant you no disrespect. I’m afraid I got caught up in the excitement of the last play. Please forgive me.”

End of conflict.

When the game ended and the teams shook hands as they left the field of play, the catcher again approached the first baseman. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m afraid I overreacted. Please accept my apology.”

Treating people with dignity by showing them respect and offering others a second chance – these are not just teachings of Verbal Defense and Influence. They are words to live by.