Tuesday, July 25, 2006, 5:45 pm CT
Ozzie made a great point — in my opinion — during his pregame talk with the media.
When asked about staying positive during a losing stretch like this, he answered:
"If I break, the team breaks. And I believe too much in this team to have that happen. We are too good for that, with too much talent.
"People don’t see how much these guys care and how much they want to win. I am the guy who goes into the clubhouse after a tough loss and turns the music on. When you are playing poorly, when a guy is struggling, that’s when you need to put your arm around him and help him up. And when you are playing well, that’s when you need to push them harder. That’s my job."
I wrote about this last August, but it seems relevant again now. Skip it if you want.
Professional athletes, at least baseball players in my experience, aren’t negative. They aren’t beaten. They expect to win every at-bat, every pitch, every game.
From the outside, people might look at that and call it cockiness or arrogance. Some may call it being blindly unrealistic.
In my opinion, it’s what makes them successful. It is what places them among the top 750 professionals in their field.
And I haven’t been smart enough to figure out what comes first … the attitude or the performance. But I do know that it seems to me that when the attitude is gone, when an athlete begins to expect defeat or failure, they are done. I have seen it personally often enough to believe in its dangers.
So tonight, as we take the field to face Johan Santana with "no chance", I know our guys are expecting to win. Each hitter goes to the plate expecting to succeed. He may not in the end, we may not in the end, but his attitude as he steps into the batter’s box is that he is going to succeed.
It is what makes him a major league player. It is what has made him successful at what he does.
I don’t know if every human is wired that way … and everyone is certainly different (thank goodness).
And again, take this or leave it (since it is just my opinion but it also is my blog so I am allowed to pontificate at times), but the easiest thing in the world is to be part of something, to be a fan, to be a player, to be an employee, to be a boss, to be (fill in the blank) when things are going well. Where are you when things get tough?
And the second-easiest thing in the world is to be the critic who constantly forecasts doom and gloom. You know why? Because eventually, that one time, that one day, that one year … you will be right. Because that is life. Eventually, we all fail. And we probably fail more than we succeed, certainly that’s true in baseball. So the safest play is to always expect the worst. You will be right more than you are wrong. If that’s your raison d’etre, then be negative.
But regardless of where I work or what I do, I don’t ever want to be that critic or necessarily surround myself with people who think that way, who have that world view. I don’t want to live and think with that type of negativity. I would rather take the risk of being the optimist, understanding that I might be wrong much more than I am right in the end, but knowing that when I am right, even if it is just once, it will be glorious. And along the way, I can look at myself in the mirror with integrity.
And I think, to sound like Don Cooper a little bit here, those critics live for those moments when they can claim they were "right."
I can’t speak for anyone else — you all can decide for yourselves — but I prefer to wait until October 1 to make that decision. And along the way, I am going to expect to win.
To quote Ozzie Guillen again, "if the season ended today, our biggest decision would be who would sing the National Anthem before Game 1 of the playoffs. A lot of people would trade places with us right now …"
Sorry if this post offended anyone, but authorship has its privileges.