This is definitely not meant as a dis to the Dodgers or Dodger fans everywhere. But after last night’s outcome, I started to dissect the results to see what I could take away.
Here’s a few thoughts…
Managing “This Team”-Sized Expectation
Expectations are hard for anyone to live up to. We set ourselves up for failure all the time when we place expectations on others.
How often do you expect a boo to call you? How frequently? What kind of dates? Who’s paying? Do you expect them to pick you up or will you drive to them? For Valentines, are you open to whatever their expression of love is or do you expect a certain gesture?
What about a job? Last night, as I watched the game at Public School 213 in DTLA, my friend & I shared a table with a couple strangers. Turns out they were ex-colleagues who still do meet ups after work. While one was in the restroom, her old colleague told us how expectations at work disappointed him. She brought in more investments than anyone at the bank they worked at, yet it being a male dominated business, she was the very last person to get a promotion. He expressed disdain at the expectation of how she should have been rewarded & promoted because of her work but wasn’t.
It’s the same thing we did with the Dodgers. It was THIS team. It had to be. No other possibilities. Their season win record. Their pitchers. Their performance in the National League playoffs to win the Pennant. Their 2 MVP’s.
The expectation was so high… it might have been part of the downfall. Were they equipped to manage the “THIS Team” expectations properly? I’m not sure. No one expected them to lose Game 2. No one expected the umpire to get hit by that ball at 2nd base & mess up the outcome of that play, potentially that game, and ultimately, the series. As the old adage [& bible verse] says, pride comes before a fall.
Not saying they were egomaniacs, but we always have to remain humble enough to know how to bounce back from defeat. We have to remain humble enough to know we can be defeated. If our mentality & expectation is that we cannot be beat, we’ll never overcome the deficit of the delay to get back on track.
Even Denzel says, “get knocked down 7 times, stand up 8.”
You Can’t Swing at Every Pitch
This World Series was wild. The playoffs in general. Home runs on top of home runs on top of home runs. Kike Hernandez set a record with 7 RBI’s in the National League Finals. Houston hitting back-to-back home runs in Game 2 of the World Series. It’s part of what makes baseball exciting… especially if you’re watching the entire game in the outfield. But something was abundantly clear last night. I saw it before last night, but in Game 7, it seemed undeniable.
As a kid, I liked playing baseball. In junior high, I still remember almost taking the coach’s head off with a line drive straight at the pitcher’s mound that forced him to fall down to avoid it. But one thing I wasn’t good at was understanding how to aim your hit at a certain part of the field. I understood the dynamic of swinging & making contact, but I didn’t necessarily know that I could control the outcome of where the ball ended up. So, outside of being instructed to bunt a ball, I would just swing aimlessly without control of the outcome.
Watching This Team, it seemed like everyone was trying to come up big. Not just last night, but especially last night.
No one expected the Astros to have a 2-0 lead as fast as they did. I GET IT. But, it seemed like everyone wanted that homer. Not sure if they were taking all the pressure on themselves. Not sure if they didn’t trust the next guy up. Again, it just seemed like everyone was taking those huge swings. No one was playing it small & controlled. Like when I used to play, they looked like they were swinging aimlessly. And at a lot of pitches they shouldn’t have.
There’s a method to being aggressive. Sure. But, as it translates to life, it just reminded me, you can’t swing at every ball. Missing the swing that was meant for you because you struck out on lousy pitches is no way someone wants to go out in the World Series. And, somehow, the same could be said of me. The past few years have been tough. But one of the things they taught me was you can’t swing at every pitch. Not every door is for you. Not every relationship is worth saving. Sometimes, it’s better to play small & strategic than to hit that noisy homer everyone pays attention to. Sometimes you have to work smarter, not harder.
In a scene I loved on Me, Myself & I, the young Alex is upset after blowing his shot with his crush. His step dad tells him a Michael Jordan stat he misunderstands as him saying that’s why the Lakers are better. But the step dad basically says, THIS IS THE GUY they trust to take the game winning shot every day & he still misses almost 50% of his shots.
Work towards hitting the right shots & taking the right swings. Smarter, not harder.
Yes, yes. A very overused phrase right now where it often isn’t used the way it should be. That’s what happens with over-saturation. But there were two things of note.
First, the thing with Yu Darvish. An opposing player makes a racial gesture after scoring off him, & possibly saying a derogatory name as well. Darvish responds as respectfully as anyone could have in that situation. Hands down. Still, as much as we can respond graciously in public, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sit with us for a while privately. Made more egregious, the Astros player was given a standing ovation by his home crowd the next day in a gesture interpreted by many as unnecessarily supporting his behavior.
Part of being woke & staying woke is not being afraid to call people out when you know they’re wrong… no matter how close to you they are. Many MLB fans felt the suspension not coming until next season was disrespectful. With the roster, the Astros could have made an executive decision to sit him the next game. They didn’t. But fans seemingly applauding a racist gesture couldn’t have felt good. So, when at the beginning of Game 7, this Astros player decides to tip his hat to Darvish his first time at bat, it may have been him innocently trying to make amends… & I hope it was. Yet it could have been him trying to get inside Darvish’s head… poking at the wound. Not saying that’s why he might have been off in that Game 7 start… & I certainly don’t expect he would turn it into an excuse if it unequivocally was the reason.
Rather, it’s an observation for us to understand we have to address the wounds that are hindering our best performance. We have to be aware of every weapon our enemy uses against us. When a friend betrays us… when a pastor we trusted lies about us…
The other note on “staying woke” regarding the Dodgers was how tired they looked last night. You can’t look that gassed at home. You just can’t. That’s what home field advantage is supposed to be about. Even early reports said the fans seemed subdued heading into the stadium for Game 7. Part of it, to me, is that rough schedule. Games on back to back nights, especially when they go into extra innings is brutal.
But the take away for us is making sure we’re not running on fumes. We have to stop & refuel. We have to plug into the Source to recharge. So many times, we exert so much energy going 80+ yards down the field that we run out of gas for the red zone or burn out short of the end zone. This Team had a huge amount of pressure on their shoulders & yet I know I put that same kind of pressure on myself all the time.
Sadly, the pressure can usually be traced back to that first point. Unrealistic expectations can keep you dead while you’re alive.
Pursuit of purpose is going to take everything you’ve got. You can’t be deterred by haters. You can’t lose focus because of friends abandoning you or weighing you down in toxicity. You definitely can’t stop when a trusted mentor decides to get creative with facts about you that speak to your character. It may be subtle, like that Astros player’s small gesture, trying to rattle you. It may be more bold. Either way, your purpose is too important.
If God has This Team-sized purpose on your life, buckle down. Focus. Drown out any noise that’s unnecessary, like Marvel’s DareDevil. Don’t swing at every pitch. Just like boxers can’t waste punches, you cannot afford to swing at the wrong pitch. Focus on the ones you can hit.
Not every move has to be posted on social media.
Not every move has to set records.
Work smarter, not harder. Be aware of your levels. Know when you need to refuel. Know when you need to recharge. Know when you need to address a wound. Alignment isn’t about rushing the process.
Pace yourself. Your steps are ordered.