Do you remember the first MLB labor strike in 1972? I love baseball, but somehow the heart of the game was cut out of me that year, even though the Detroit Tigers won their division.
At the time, I wasn’t sure as a 26-year-old young man, why the impact of that strike did so much to dishearten me. I had bought into the significance of what the game taught me about life. As a kid, I purchased thousands of baseball cards and bubble gum, played little league baseball, Babe Ruth baseball, high school baseball and had a desire to be a pro player one day.
During that MLB strike, my dreams and fantasies about playing pro ball were shattered. I think I tried to make up for the loss by coaching small college baseball. Maybe I thought I could recover some of the game’s grandeur by coaching athletes.
In this year’s World Series, I watched players and coaches closely. I still love the game and have been associated in one way or another with pro athletes over the years. But something happened to me as I watched this years WS.
To me, the greatness of what the game meant—how important character is, bouncing back from mistakes or defeat, understanding the impact an athlete can have on kids, leadership on the field, and making tough calls—was resurrected. The managers and coaches for San Francisco and Kansas City carried themselves in that way. The players left it all out there on the field.
In an article on Yahoo: The Royals Explain Why They Didn’t Go For The Inside-The-Park Home Run In The Bottom Of The 9th we see an example of men owning their call. In a manner of fact way, the explanation was given. There was no excuse, no twisted thinking, frankly no right or wrong and the honor of the game was reinforced.
The mystery of an uncertain moment was embraced and backed up by the third base coaches’ manager, as well as the player about to round the base. Real men do that. They enter uncertainty to make the call and own it.
Defeat for Kansas City didn’t mean failure to me. Not when the integrity and glory of the way the game used to be played was restored during this series.
Oh, and one more thing. It was fun to watch.