Life’s a Game: We can learn from the MVPs

Maybe you’re like me, and baseball never really meant a whole lot to you. Also, if you’re like me, you appreciate the value of good stories. You realize that worthy lessons can be gained from the most unlikely of sources. Check out these vibrantly illustrated excerpts from David Barron’s (2 Nov 2017) MSN Sports News article.

“Champs: Astros’ first World Series win is a triumph for Houston”

The Astros’ orange jersey tops bore the logo the team has worn since Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston in late August – the team’s star H logo and the word “Strong.” Houston Strong has been a beacon of resilience and now, it’s a symbol of triumph.

The Astros’ journey toward a championship began in failure – three consecutive 100-loss seasons from 2011. Four years ago, the Astros were laughingstocks. Now they have beaten baseball’s royalty.

They used new school metrics to develop old school talent – Jose Altuve’s tenacity, Carlos Correa’s grace, Springer’s power, Alex Bregman’s channeled ferocity, Marwin Gonzalez’s versatility and the arms of pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, to mention a few.

The new ideas had skeptics, but there were believers, too. Sports Illustrated in the spring of 2014 heralded the Astros as “Your 2017 World Series Champs” for their innovative approach.

No matter who you are or where you’re from, the Houston Astros provided us all with beautiful examples of dedication and creativity. Mixing strategy and perseverance with humility, generosity and gratitude, through uncertainty and adversity, the Astros never weakened. Difficulties only made them stronger. Starting from the bottom of the barrel, how did the Astros reach the unparalleled pinnacle of success? What competitive strategies did they use?

Built an Unsurpassed Team.  Although obvious to anyone, who knows anything whatsoever about sports, yes, it has to be stated, the Astros clearly had a great team. But not your typical great team. They strategically selected and developed people who would complement one another’s strengths and compensate for one another’s weaknesses. The Astros fully leveraged their capabilities and resources by identifying and developing their most valuable characteristics and key resources – tenacity, grace, power, ferocity, versatility along with extraordinary pitchers and amazing hitters.

Stood on the Shoulders of Giants (no I don’t specifically mean the San Francisco Giants). The Astros took advantage of what had worked for other great teams in the past. They learned from the fortunes and failures of others. The Astros studied and improved upon those existing proven strategies, making them even better. They applied contemporary approaches to conventional wisdom.

Genuinely Made It About Something Greater Than Themselves. For the Astro’s 2017 season, it wasn’t about them. It wasn’t about baseball. “It” went well beyond winning games. This was a group on a mission. The Astros developed a unique (and much needed) mark based on the concept of resilience. “Houston Strong” wasn’t just a slogan. It stood as an affirmation of faith and fortitude, not just for the team, not just for the fans, but for for the entire city of Houston. Now the “Houston Strong” motto is an emblem for the whole world.

The Astros were arguably not “the best.” They were remarkable offensively, but they didn’t have the best pitchers. They didn’t have the most seasoned players. What they did have was exclusiveness. The 2017 Astros were the most unique. They were a group comprised of extremely diverse yet distinctive individuals. You can’t readily gauge new approaches. You can’t easily imitate originality. They were simply unpredictable and inimitable. Simply put, they caught the competition off guard.

So, as a Texan, who is hopefully not biased, and who admittedly knows next to nothing about baseball, what is this World Series win about to me? It’s not about a championship title. It’s not about fame or recognition. It’s not about superstars and MVPs. It’s not about sports or baseball. Really, it’s not even about the competitive strategies which I like to tout so much about.

The 2017 World Series win is about recognizing and utilizing our talents and then using them, honorably, in order to serve and inspire others. It’s about believing in your own abilities, understanding that you are needed and realizing that your unique contributions do make a difference.  It’s about perseverance, not perfection. It’s about believing that through our painful experiences, we learn, grow and get stronger.  It’s about the journey, not the destination. It’s about knowing that, even in the face of tremendous adversity, opportunities are always abundant and good people are always nearby to help. Most importantly, it is about enduring hardships with faith and determination and embracing victories with humility and gratitude.  

Appropriately, it was Altuve, who was there for the bad times, who fielded the grounder that led to the final out. He said, “I always believed that we can make it. I thank God for the opportunity to be here. In a Game 7. And we won the Game 7. So I thank God for the opportunity to become World Series champions.”


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