World Series: What’s to be Learned?

Now that the World Series is over, and a champion is crowned, what can Ruffnecks players (and families) learn from it?  To start with, it has been the opinion of Ruffnecks coaches for a long time that players do NOT WATCH ENOUGH  BASEBALL!  So, at the very least, if baseball players watched Game 7, there are plenty of take-away lessons that are important.  Consider the following post by Chad Longworth, just hours after Ben Zobrist captured his second championship and MVP honors:

Just Keep Going (by Chad Longworth)

Ben Zobrist is the 8th player in Major League history to win Back to Back World Series Championships for different teams and now has an MVP in his pocket. As a high school senior, he signed at an open tryout for unsigned players to Olivet Nazarene University to continue his baseball career and his Christian education. The single most important factor in achieving success in uncommon ways isn’t the hitting secret or the fancy travel ball showcase team. It is a willingness to put in the boring work and to put one foot in front of the other every single day. Many players will talk about being great, talk about winning championships, but talk means nothing. Social media posturing means nothing. Being anointed by recruiting services and Baseball America means nothing. It’s about doing the daily work when no one is watching.

The simplicity of these truths is staggering.

Oh no!  Ben Zobrist did not get recruited… and he survived!  He did not do showcases; he did not get an early commitment; he did not get recruited the summer before his junior year in high school; he did not get recruited the summer before his senior year in high school; he did not even get recruited during his senior YEAR in high school.  Oh no!  Perhaps his parents should have spoken to the coach, or pushed him harder, or gotten an advisor.  Regrettably, we are in a culture where baseball is often dominated by well meaning parents who think they can engineer the outcome with opportunities that are bought or created (daddy ball).  And sometimes it works.  But thank goodness for the Ben Zobrists of the world.  He is a champion and an MVP, and he had to do it the hard way.

What Else Did We See in Game 7?

We saw baseball players on the biggest stage doing just about everything in a baseball game.  Highly skilled players bobbled balls; came through in the clutch; made bad decisions; made good decisions; failed; met with the exhilaration of the greatest success… you name it… you saw it… if you were watching.  It was Game 7, The World Series, and it was close.  It was the scenario in every real ball player’s dream… to be in the biggest game, at the biggest moment.  From a baseball standpoint, it revealed so many fundamental truths about the game.  Each pitch mattered.  Taking extra bases mattered.  Failing to take an extra base cost both teams at different times (in the entire series).  Two-strike approaches were all over the place.  Did anyone really watch Rajai Davis, and how far he choked up on the bat just to survive to the next pitch?  There is no way he was trying to hit a home run.  He just wanted to put the ball in play.  By the way, Davis is a New England kid who played multiple sports in high school: football, basketball, and baseball.  And further, he was drafted in the 38th round, never played in the Cape Cod League, and like Zobrist, was not recruited by a Division I college.

If we were really watching, we saw some gutsy plays.  We saw a failed squeeze in the perfect moment when a squeeze may have won the game, and would have made a hero and a genius out of player and manager, respectively.  Instead, we watched the player fail to execute, and we were left second guessing the manager.  We saw genius, and we questioned the decision making of really smart baseball men.  This is what makes baseball like none other.  We saw competition at a fever pitch… intoxicating, adrenelin-pumping, competition from 50 of the best baseball players on the planet.  Some had small roles, slumped, couldn’t deliver; some had to deliver in small ways; some met the moment in big ways that most of us only dream about.  But in the end… as we in the Ruffnecks INSIST we must do, we saw two TEAMS play as teams and not for themselves.

Baseball has not abdicated its place in the sports conscience of America or the world.  It is just that we don’t watch either enough, or closely enough.  If we watched, we would understand our roles as players, coaches, spectators, (and parents) much better.  We would capture the joy of playing a most difficult game, not for ourselves, not for a ranking, not for a “commitment,” not for anything but the satisfaction of winning the next inning, contributing, getting hit by a pitch to move a runner along, making a play, and relishing the moment.