- It’s the first day of November
- Everything is pumpkin flavored
- Halloween is over
- A World Series champion has been crowned
- All of that means that this year is close to being over
Baseball, like any other sport, can provide many metaphors for lessons in life and business.
This year’s World Series proved no different as it provided many great takeaways that can be learned from as we all prepare to finish our year.
You Have to Win at Home
This World Series was certainly a historic one, but for the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, it may be remembered for the wrong reason.
This is the first time in MLB history – actually, in any major United States sport – that the visiting team has won every game in a best-of-seven championship series.
Imagine that. The most important set of games for a team in any given year and they can’t win a single game at home. There’s a reason why it’s called “home field advantage.” You have the crowd on your side, you know every inch of the ballpark, and the other team has to leave their home to travel to yours. Essentially, the odds are in your favor to win.
It’s quite simple; you have to be able to win on your own turf to succeed. If your competition is outplaying you in your own territory you need to take a step back and make the necessary adjustments.
Conversely, You Have to Be Able to Achieve Success Outside of Your Comfort Zone
With this year’s results being such an anomaly, it only emphasized the importance of being able to outperform the home team as the visitors.
It’s no small task to walk into someone else’s house and beat them at their own game, on their own field. It takes the perfect amount of planning by leadership and flawless execution by the team to succeed, but when it all comes together the results can be tremendous. Just ask the Washington Nationals.
Give Your Superstars the Ball
In Game 7 the Houston Astros made a decision that may have denied them from winning their second championship in three years and the chance of being labeled as a budding dynasty.
Baseball has become a game of role players, especially in the bullpen. Most teams have a 7th and 8th inning specialist in addition to their closer. However, going into this finale there was no pitcher hotter than starting pitcher Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros.
The Astros were up 2-1 when starter Zack Greinke was pulled in the top of the 7th inning. The whole ballpark waited in bated breath watching Geritt Cole warm up in the bullpen, but ultimately the Houston Astros chose to bring in Will Harris.
Harris immediately gave up a two-run home run, putting the Nationals in a lead that they would never surrender.
The reasoning for not using Geritt Cole? They weren't losing at the time.
Sometimes, especially when the biggest game is at stake, you have to go against the grain and just give the ball to your best or hottest players.
Money Doesn’t Always Guarantee Success
The Washington Nationals woke up Halloween morning as world champions. The closest Bryce Harper (former Washington Nationals’ right fielder) is going to get is cosplaying as one.
Bryce Harper is a great, if not generational talent on the baseball diamond. He’s also one of the richest athletes in sports after signing, at the time, the largest free agent contact at $330 million, a deal which saw him move to the division rival Philadelphia Phillies.
While Harper is $330 million dollars richer, his team, the Philadelphia Phillies, finished at .500 on the nose while his prior teammates can now refer to themselves as the world champions.
Would the Nationals have still won a World Series with Bryce Harper? It’s hard to say, but having someone of his talent couldn't have hurt the effort. Bryce Harper chased the dollar and is now in a 13 year contract with a .500 team that supposedly finished a re-building phase one year prior.
Chasing money won’t always guarantee success. However, chasing success and being able to add “champion” to your resume can definitely add some more dollars to your wallet outside of your playing contract.
It Only Matters How You Finish
It’s so cliché and overused, but if this year’s World Series isn’t the perfect example, I don’t know what is.
Through the first 50 games of the season, the Washington Nationals were all but scrubbed from playoff conversations with a record of 19-31.
At that point, most teams may hold a fire sale and sell off top talent as a way to prepare for the future, but the Nationals persevered and ended the year with a record of 93-69.This was enough to earn second place in their division and gave them the opportunity to host the National League Wild Card Game on their way to becoming World Series Champions.
With 2020 right around the corner, we can all sit and reflect on missed opportunities and losses we sustained up until now. However, all the matters is how you finish.
There is no better time than now to start looking at that ground you need to make up, draft a plan, and lead your team to success.