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They say that of all professional sports, baseball is the most like life. With back-to-back slow innings followed by grand slams and double-plays, the pace of play is a lot like everyday living: filled with highs and lows. Furthermore, baseball is a game of longevity and endurance, also elements of life. With 182 regular season games, the longest of any pro sport, it’s a marathon season – not a sprint.
As the MLB Playoffs continue this week without the Cubs and the White Sox for the 4th consecutive year, I’m reminiscing about the “meh” seasons that just wrapped and realized there are some excellent take-aways that can easily translate to every day life. Consider these the cocktail party talking points for the upcoming winter when the Cubs and the Sox conversations arise. I’m throwing in a little dose of self-help and inspiration…here we go:
CUBS and SOX SEASON TAKE-AWAYS:
1. You have to hit rock bottom before you can rise again: When Theo Epstein took over as the Cubs’ new president prior to the start of the season, he warned fans it would be a few years before the Cubs were post-season contenders. After unloading half of the Cubs’ best talent and bringing in young, no-name players to build up over the years to come, the Cubs struggled all season long, finishing with a horrible 61-101 record. Although painful for fans and bad for business in Wrigley, this rebuilding stage is critical for the Cubs to be good in the future.
2. Actions speak louder than words: When the White Sox’s GM, Kenny Williams, introduced new Sox skipper, Robin Ventura, as the guy who would take over the manager position formerly held by Ozzie Guillen, many fans were critical of the pick. Ventura, a soft-spoken former player, had never coached professional ball and was considered a risky pick. But three months into the season as the Sox shocked critics by holding the lead in the AL Central for back-to-back weeks, Ventura was praised for being a ‘players manager’ and the glue that kept the clubhouse together.
3. When the going gets tough, the tough get going: Well, sort of. The White Sox proved that they were able to sustain major injuries to their starting pitching over the season by bringing up young talent to fill in the holes. Pitchers like Jose Quintana, Addison Reed and new ace, Chris Sale, were all unexpected phenoms this season. But, the pressure to perform and maintain the division lead in the last two weeks of the season proved to be too much for the Sox. The Detroit Tigers finally caught up to the sinking Sox in late September and managed to clinch the division after trailing the Sox all season, thanks to a late season melt down by the South Siders.
4. There’s always next year. Do I need to elaborate?