October is Rocktober at our house. Rocktober is a special time of the year. Fall is in the air. College football is in season. More importantly it is Playoff and World Series time for Major League Baseball.
Sports can teach you a lot about life. This season I have witnessed several life lessons during the MLB playoffs.
Lesson 1: Never Give Up
The Kansas City Royals were down 2 games to 1 going in to Game 4 of their series with the Houston Astos.
The defending AL champions saved their season. They rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to beat Houston 9-6, forcing their playoff series to a decisive Game 5. We all know what happened in Game 5.
First baseman Eric Hosmer said,”We always feel that we’re still in games, and we still have a chance. That’s the mentality for this whole entire team. It’s never quit, and the character we showed today. That’s what a championship ballclub does.”
The game is not over until after the bottom of the last inning. There can be 2 outs bottom of the 9th down by 5 and you still have an opportunity to tie and send the game to extra innings or better yet win the game.
Lesson 2: Hire Great Leaders and Surround Yourself with the Best
The Chicago Cubs did a fantastic job of hiring great baseball leaders. They hired Theo Eptein as President of Baseball Operations and Joe Maddon as their manager. These were great hires. Theo and Joe are two of the best in the game. They also brought in veteran pitcher Jon Lester to provide the young pitching staff with an experienced veteran who has been in the World Series.
They changed the team from the top. The results speak for themselves. The Cubs finished in last place in the National League Central Division in 2014. They finished 17 games back.
In 2015 they finished 3 games back and earned a Wildcard to the playoffs. This is a dramatic turnaround in one year.
If you want a great team you need to have great leaders. Speed of the leader, speed of the team.
Lesson 3: The Highest Payroll Does Not Guarantee Results
If the top payrolls were the ticket to the World Series, the Dodgers would be playing the Yankees. The Top 4 MLB payrolls in 2015 are:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers $272,789,040
2. New York Yankees $219,282,196
3. Boston Red Sox $187,407,202
4. Detroit Tigers $173,813,750
The two teams in the World Series are not even in the top 15. The Mets are #21 and the Royals are #16 on the total payroll list.
Having the highest paid teams and individuals doesn’t necessarily mean you will get the best results.
Lesson 4: Prepare for the Unexpected and Be Flexible
The St. Louis Cardinals essentially had 5 of the 9 players that started the regular season injured at year end. They still finished with the best record in baseball with a .617 winning percentage.
You have to prepare for health issues, injuries and life issues. You also have to carry on even when the team is not at full speed. You have to be flexible and use your resources.
Lesson 5: The Best Team Does Not Always Win
The St. Louis Cardinals had the best record in baseball in 2015, yet they did not make it to the World Series. They won over 100 games this year.
You can have a great team and win the most games, but still not win championships. You have to get hot when the victories count.