Tag Archives: MLB

On Being a Professional – Derek Jeter

Team Captain of the New York Yankees. There are a lot of high-profile jobs in this world, and all come with a healthy degree of stress, but there are very few that are 100% in the public eye and in the media capital of the world. Derek Jeter filled one such role for 11 years, taking on the job at the ripe old age of 29. Of all that he accomplished throughout the course of his career, the most impressive thing just might be his reputation as the consummate professional.

Derek Jeter worked for the same company his entire career.  He was drafted out of high school by the Yankees, came up through their minor league system, and played 20 years in the Bronx.  Along the way he was part of 5 World Series Championships, won multiple MVP’s and is the all-time Yankee leader in hits, games played, and several other categories.  More astonishing is what he has not done.  He has not been arrested, involved in sordid stories and controversy, contract disputes, discipline problems or locker room dramas.  He even changed positions to allow Alex Rodriquez to play for the Yankees!  He is universally praised by teammates, management, competitors and coaches for his work ethic, committment and leadership.  Interesting, all that he has done, all that he has been, and all that he has not been are the very things that constitute “professional”.

As part of the All Star game tonight, there is a new commercial by Nike entitled RE2PECT.  It is an amazing piece of advertising, as well as a genuine chapeau to one of the greats of the game.  Leave it to Nike to capture such a moment:

Interesting that the commercial is part of the Jordan brand with Nike, and that both MJ himself and Tiger Woods make an appearance. While obviously both are Nike athletes, both too were also once the best at their profession and widely respected. However, time has shown some of the warts that come with MJ and Tiger. Let’s just hope the Derek Jeter we have seen the last 20 years remains the Derek Jeter we see well into the future.

Being a professional is both a state of mind and a state of being.  Derek Jeter has done a remarkable job at being one of the best both on an off the field.  His level of achievement has been a result of hard work; he puts in the hours.  It has been a part of who Derek Jeter was, where he came from and the person he was and is at the core.  It has also been a result of how he carries himself and the pride he takes in being a Yankee.  Derek Jeter has always acted like a professional.

 

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Filed under leadership, Sports

Super Bowl, Super Irony and Super Clarity

Super Bowl week, a week of unrelenting media bombardment and hype. Stories of what might happen, what should happen, and commercials.  Blows my mind that as a society we get wound-up over the idea of how well something is going to be pitched to us for our consumption.  Then again, the commercials are sometimes more entertaining than the game.   Super Bowl Sunday has become a part of our national fabric.  And this year is no different, except for a story that broke on Tuesday regarding Performance Enhancing Drugs. Sort of makes me feel like it is cycling season. However, this time names like Alex Rodriguez and Ray Lewis, and a bunch of other “mainstream” athletes are tied to the story.

Here we sit on Friday, and not a word of the story.  It was a story for 24 hours, then it was simply swept away or ignored…48 hours later hardly a peep.  And the response from Ray Lewis to the media in New Orleans, well it sounded a lot like other comments we have heard from other high-profile athletes over the years.  It was all a bit ironic, the face of the sport, on the sports biggest stage, with a world-wide audience, denying, minimizing the story and ultimately turning the spot-light onto the accusers, their motivations and their credibility.  Love irony, just love it.

As we reach the end of the week, irony has brought clarity – the NFL is too big to fail.  Same goes for MLB.  A-Rod and Ray Lewis are marquee players, faces of their sport, and no one cares about what they did or did not do when it comes to PEDs.  It is so clear what is valued and what is not.  Marion Jones cheated and lied; she went to prison.  Lance cheated and is literally and figuratively only beginning to paying the price.  Ray Lewis, A-Rod, Bonds, Clemens, or any of the others in the NFL or MLB…not a dime.  Nothing.  It is another moment of clarity.

Now the real irony is the fact that one of the government’s reasons for going after Lance is because of the US Postal Service sponsorship of the cycling team.  The positive press the US Postal Service received for those years was absolutely massive.  It was a marketing coup and might represent one of the best advertising investments in the history of marketing, yet the government feels they were a victim of fraud.  The US Postal Service has had two other positive moments in its entire history before the cycling team, the Pony Express and “neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow”.  Gotta love irony.

Clearly, like everyone else in the country, I will be watching the Super Bowl Sunday.  Well, after I get back from my bike ride that is…

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Filed under Current affairs, Sports, Uncategorized

Synergies in Business – A $250 Million Example

So Albert took the money. Good for him, good for the Angels, and yes even good for the Cardinals. After a few days to let the dust settle and get the emotion out-of-the-way, it is clear that there were quite literally no losers in this quarter billion dollar deal. Imagine that, a quarter billion dollars for a baseball player, and everyone wins…crazy.  Actually, the word is synergy.

Synergy was one of those words that it takes a bit of life experiences to really grasp. Granted, Stephen Covey did a great job adding “synergy” to the everyday lexicon thanks to “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.  Thinking win-win is also a factor of maturity and just having the ability to see the bigger picture; of taking the long view.  That is a lot of Covey cliché in a short paragraph.

Clearly Albert won in this deal – to the tune of a quarter billion dollars.  (Note to Charlie Sheen…$250 million is real “winning”).  Granted, Albert was relatively speaking “underpaid” during his time with the Cardinals.  However, even he has to be grateful for the stage and opportunity – he was able to showcase his skills with a great organization, build an amazing track record of success, and frankly set himself up for the massive payout that is his new contract with the Angels.   The real question is, how is it a win-win for everyone else?

The Angels now have the face of the sport, an offensive powerhouse, as well as the marquis Latin American player and role model in a huge and growing Latin American market.  I have been to Angel Stadium in Anaheim…it is a great ballpark and it has a very strong Latin American feel and vibe – Albert fits – he is a huge asset to the team on and off the field.  And yes, the Angels are an American League club – Albert can DH for a lot more years in the American League than he could ever play in the field with a National League team.  The Angels got a good deal.  They will certainly make up the $250 million they have invested in Albert…no question.

But what of the Cardinals – how did they win in this example of synergies?  I have said before, there is such a thing as addition by subtraction, and especially so when it comes to staffing.  Albert Pujols is without question one of the finest baseball players to ever play.  The first 11 years of his career have been absolutely epic.  He is already in the company of DiMaggio, Williams and Ruth when it comes to offensive production.  Add in a Rookie of the Year, 3 League MVP awards, 9 All-Star selections, and two World Series Championships and you have one amazing legacy in St. Louis.  All of that for the relatively low-cost of around $105 million…a screaming good deal in hindsight.  And now the Cardinals save an enormous amount by not paying Pujols massive salary on the back half of his career.  They can sign other, younger players at much lower cost.  In raw business terms, it is a huge advantage.  The Cardinals will add to their team in the long-term by loosing one player in the short-term.  Business is harsh sometimes.

$250 million plus for 10 years of work.  It is a staggering sum.  But if it is that amount of money that is required to teach everyone a lesson in synergy, then I guess it was money well spent…just wish someone would slide me a slice of that pie.

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The Perfect Call

By now everyone has heard the story – the blown call on the final out of the perfect game. Armando Galarraga had faced and retired 26 batters. No walks, no hits. Perfection. Bottom of the ninth, 2 outs and a routine ground ball and a flip to first – it was done – only the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history.  Then First Base Umpire Jim Joyce made the call as he saw it – the runner was safe and the perfect game gone.

We live in a world of instant feedback, of constant information, of second guessing and 20/20 hindsight.  It is an instant replay world, and instant replay told the story Wednesday night – a young man had his perfect game taken from him.  Make no mistake, Jim Joyce blew it.  However, from that moment forward, we have seen the best of human nature in both Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce.

Neither denied what happened, nor did they shy away from the issue.  Armando Galarraga took the high road right off – he accepted the call and moved forward.  He retired the next batter and won the game.  No theatrics, no fits, no drama.  The Tigers won the game, Galarraga notched another victory and everyone moved forward.  He did not attack Jim Joyce for doing his job and making a call as he saw it.  He was mature and professional.  He was also disappointed, but never did he lose his composure.

Thank you Jim Joyce.  You stepped up, owned the call, and more importantly owned the mistake that was made.  Above all you did the hardest thing – you sought out Armando Galarraga and delivered your apology in person, with contrition and heartfelt sincerity.  Jim Joyce went from villan to hero in 24 hours.  There is a massive lesson there for all of us.

They have both been an example of perfection in an imperfect world.  Maybe the game will not go down as a perfect game, but rest assured the behaviour of Jim Joyce and Armando Galaraga will.

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Filed under Coaching, Current affairs, Sports