Baseball’s post season just ended with the most watched World Series game in the last 25 years. It also ended a curse that had plagued one of baseball’s most storied franchises. There were numerous battles fought over this 7 game series and I’m not sure Hollywood could have written a better script. At the plate, batters were challenged by 100 MPH pitches and breaking balls that moved several feet. There were great battles in the field, as line drives, double plays and aggressive base running challenged every player’s skill. In the dugout, managers battled against each other and drew on their entire bench in an all-out effort to record a W. In a game where even the best hitters fail more often than they succeed, I’m struck by five things we learned from being caught-up with the Cubbies.
- You don’t win with your reputation. Even though the Cubs posted the best regular season record in baseball, it did not earn them one game in the playoffs or even home field advantage in the World Series. In order to win, it takes preparation and showing up every day with the right attitude.
- ‘We Never Quit.’ Cubs pitcher, John Lester put it best when he explained after the Game 7 victory how the Cubs overcame the unlikely, persevered through the regular season, and kept the faith in their team during the playoffs that had them down 2-1 to the Dodgers in the NLCS and 3-1 to the Indians in the World Series.
- Age does not define performance. The Cubs were defined this season by their youth, their inexperience, and their ‘loose but controlled’ style under pressure. But in the final game of the year, it was their scrappy veteran and oldest player, 39-year-old David Ross, who hits one of the home runs.
- It takes a team. During the post-game interviews, multiple players pointed to the Ricketts family ownership, to front office lead by Theo Epstein and Crane Kenny, to the manager Joe Madden, to their teammates, and to their die-hard fans for support. The comments were not ‘media training sound bites’ but heartfelt, emotion-filled comments on what it takes for a group of specialists to work together in order to claim a prize that has escaped them for 108 years.
- Being a good looser is as important as being a good winner. The Cubs have had plenty of practice being the ‘loveable losers’. In an era of inappropriate behavior and questionable ethics by athletes, it is gratifying to see good sportsmanship never goes out of style. Like Wrigley’s manned scoreboard above the bleachers, the Chicago Dog, and the ivy on the outfield walls, being dependable and reliable (to your peers) starts with being a gentleman.
Charlie Graves - Athletic Republic CEO (and life-long Cubs fan)