The Standard Case| Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell E5/S4 (Transcript)
The Standard Case
Episode 5| Season 4| Revisionist History
Length: 42 mins | Released: July 18, 2019
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Malcolm Gladwell: On February 18th, 2008, on the first day of spring training, a major league baseball player named Andy Pettitte held a press conference. He was a pitcher who, over the course of a long and brilliant career, played for the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. A straight arrow, a beloved teammate, one of the good guys. But now an investigation by Major League Baseball had found that Pettitte had, on several occasions, used performance-enhancing drugs.
Andy Pettitte: I want to apologize to the New York Yankees and to the Houston Astros organizations, and to their fans, and to all my teammates, and to all of baseball fans for the embarrassment I have caused them.
Malcolm Gladwell: He reads from notes, his head bowed in shame.
Andy Pettitte: I also want to tell anyone that as an Andy Pettitte fan I am sorry
Malcolm Gladwell: Pettitte wanted to come clean. Sort of. I'm not that much of a baseball fan, but I have to say, I've always been obsessed with his case. Obsessed to the point where, if you sat next to me on an airplane, I would bring it up without warning and bend your ear for a good half hour.
Malcolm Gladwell: First off, what sort of bizarre apology is this? "I want to apologize for the embarrassment I caused others." Others? I thought this was about Andy Pettitte and what Andy Pettitte did wrong.
Andy Pettitte: I never took this to get an edge on anyone. I did this to try to get off the DL and to do my job, and again, for that, I am sorry for the mistakes I've made.
Malcolm Gladwell: Pettitte says, "I was injured. I took performance-enhancing drugs to get healthy; not to get ahead." Does that distinction matter? Then he segues into this long thing about his dad, who he somehow dragged into the whole mess and now wish to drag out of it. He goes on and on about his dad's heart problems. It's all very emotional, but what does his dad's heart condition have to do with the fact he cheated? At the time, everyone waited on Andy Pettitte's public statement, including, my favorite a professor named Holly Weeks who, in the pages of the Harvard Business Review, called it "a self-protective string of explaining, back-patting, and minimizing with a small, wan apology tucked in." Ouch.
Malcolm Gladwell: My name is Malcolm Gladwell. You're listening to Revisionist History, my podcast about things overlooked and misunderstood. This episode is the first of a three-part series about how to make sense of novel problems. Because what happened to Andy Pettitte was a novel problem, and if a problem is novel, if we've never seen that kind of problem before, how do we know how to think about it?
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