What could explain your good mood these past few days? For some reason, things just don’t seem so bad. Life seems a bit brighter and things seem more doable. There was baseball played in November with temperatures in the seventies across the nation. There is optimism in the air and for good reason. The Cubs showed us the Secret of Life.
In the land of America, founded on possible, we were reminded of how great things can be.
When an event can transcend time and cause life to slow down for a moment you have something special going on.
The kind of event when the “where were you when” conversation will take place twenty years from now.
The kind of event where four generations all watched and waited as the clock passed midnight in the midst of a tie World Series game seven that would dramatically enter into extra innings.
The TV ratings nearly doubled the NBA championship finals game 7 Cavaliers versus Warriors earlier this year. Non-baseball fans even tuned in to this event, having skipped all 162 games of the regular season.
And for the first time in 108 years the Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions of Major League Baseball.
As a small town Nebraska boy who played baseball nearly every summer day, this series is hard to put into words. Having watched the World Series every year for over thirty years this game 7 is at the top of the list.
Oh there have been many memorable World Series moments during my years watching:
- Kirk Gibson Game Six 1988 World Series
- Gene Larkin Game Seven 1991 World Series
- Joe Carter Game Six 1993 World Series
- Luis Gonzalez Game Seven 2001 World Series
- David Freese Game Six 2011 World Series
This Cubs win had so much significance. And to come back from down three games to one, on the road away from their home confines. They once again found themselves giving up a big lead. Then they would have to face an extra inning to will their way to victory.
Anthony Rizzo, the 27-year old first baseman stated it best after the game “no one can ever take this away from this club, this group of guys, we just made history today and we will be able to share it forever.”
Wow, bottle that up.
Rizzo’s instant post-game perspective on the moment is what we can aspire to achieve in our lives. Achieving something amazing while working as a team is one of the most rewarding things to do in life.
The Secret Of Life
The secret is simple: Keep getting back up.
When you do, anything is possible.
The Cubs nation were accustomed to losing and never winning the big game. For decades. One of the biggest fan bases in the country in one of the oldest ball fields. The loyal never walked out on their team, never turned their backs. The faithful just accepted their fate, filled the seats in the stadium year after year, and cheered all of the players that made up their teams generation after generation.
The Chicago Cubs broke through their curse because they got back up. Literally, in game seven, they got up, dusted themselves off, and won themselves a world championship.
An Old Veteran Knocked On His Bottom
David Ross, a 39-year old veteran playing in his final major league game, was called into duty in the 5th inning to catch for pitcher Jon Lester. A wild pitch symbolized exactly what Cubs fans and players are used to. The low curve ball pitch, with the force of a heavy weight boxer landing a hard right hook, would take a hard bounce off the ground and hit Ross square in his face mask and knock him backwards off his feet and to the ground. The Cubs gave up two runs on the knockout wild pitch and part of the precious 5-1 fifth inning lead, causing Cubs loyalists to question fate once again.
What happened next is a lesson to everyone.
In the top of the 6th inning David Ross came to the plate to bat. He became the oldest player to ever hit a home run in a game seven of the World Series. He had hit only ten home runs all season and had just over one hundred in his 15-year career.
When Ross fell down, he got back up. Anything was possible.
The Hardest Thrower In Baseball Knocked Out Of The Park
Aroldis Chapman was called in to pitch in the 8th inning for a third consecutive game in the series. With a pitch count approaching 100 in three days Chapman would give up a two run home run to Cleveland Indians center fielder Rajai Davis in bottom of the 8th inning that would tie the game. Notably shaken, Chapman got the final out and returned to the Cubs dugout to reflect on the moment that had the potential to cement his fate as a choker on the game’s biggest stage.
What happened next is a lesson to everyone.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Coach Joe Maddon stuck with his man, as Chapman was again summoned to the mound. This time it would be different. He allowed no runs and the game would be forced into extra innings. His mission complete, his fate would be determined by the bats of the Cubs in the following inning.
And hit they did, as the Cubs put themselves up by two runs and would hold on for victory.
When Chapman fell down, he got back up. Anything was possible.
Just Keep Going
The Cubs epitomized a team built to get back up and keep going. The leadership in the club house, the leadership on the field. The camaraderie of the players and a manager who let the boys play the way they were wired so long as they had a single focus, winning.
Whether in high school with your sights aimed at college or college with your sights aimed at your career, the key takeaway is not a secret at all. But it is easy to forget. When things don’t go as planned it is important to get back up and to just keep going.
The idea is to pivot when necessary and adjust your plan when needed. Sometimes it takes longer to get there, sometimes a different path than we planned, sometimes the path just turns out to be a dead end. Start a new path.
If I do not gain admission to a highly selective college am I destined for a life of mediocrity? Only if you let it be.
If I cannot score high enough on the MCAT (Medical School Admissions Test) to gain entry into medical school, then what are my options? Should I quit trying? The key is to understand ALL of your options and then weigh them, targeting the one that is most suitable to you.
A friend of mine graduated with his bachelor’s degree in three years but he did not score high on his MCAT. He was denied acceptance to medical school. As a fallback plan, he applied and was accepted to a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O) program. He pivoted so that he could continue learning and advancing toward his ultimate goal of getting his medical degree.
He resolved to study as much as possible to improve his MCAT test score. This showed grit. One year later he re-applied to medical school and was accepted, a year wiser and ready to start his journey to becoming a doctor. He spent several years going through the rigor of tough courses, cadavers, summer testing, residency and research. He graduated with his MD and has been a doctor for nearly twenty years now.
The magic of life is not about how much you get knocked down but about how you get back up when you get hit by that baseball right in the face. Life is not easy. It takes determination, resilience, and passion to recover from setbacks. You can learn to accept knock downs, temporary setbacks and failures in life.
Those flexible and able to adapt will best be positioned to get back up when necessary.
Make a plan, put in the work. When you fall down, get back up. Anything is possible.